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Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 260/260: Mark

Read Acts 13:5, 13; 15:36-41; 2 Timothy 4:11


We don’t know what happened. Mark, called John in Acts 13, went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey initially, but something happened. Perhaps he was homesick, or maybe he was frightened by persecution, or it could be that he was simply overwhelmed by what he witnessed. So, he went home to Jerusalem.

Later, when it was time to go out again, Barnabas suggested giving Mark a second chance. Paul disagreed. “Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another” (Acts 15:39). The superstar team of Paul and Barnabas split up.

Does any of this sound familiar? You were gung-ho to do something, but it wasn’t quite what you expected, so you gave up. You quit. But then, after quitting, you regretted it and wanted to try again. Who supported you in your second effort? Who encouraged you and stood by you and stood up for you? Who stood against you?

Do you have strained relationships because of past poor judgment? How can you restore such relationships? It takes effort, and it takes time, and it takes patience. Don’t give up on the person who gave up on you. Maybe, like Paul, they will come to see you in a different light.

When Paul was nearing the end of his life, writing a letter to Timothy from prison, he told the young evangelist, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).

The one who had “departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38) was now “useful to me for ministry.” Perhaps Paul witnessed Mark’s improved performance when he teamed up with Barnabas and went a different direction, or perhaps Paul simply had a moment of weakness himself in Acts 15. Whatever the case, his opinion of Mark changed over time, and he was willing to work with him again.

If you are willing to repent of your past sins and commit to serving God, you can be useful as well. It does not matter what you did yesterday. What matters is what you do today.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 259/260: John

Read 1 John 5

We Can Know!

Some people say that it is impossible to know anything. The apostle John disagrees. More than thirty times in his epistle, he uses the word “know” without flinching. Yes, we can know something! We can know important things!

Read just the final chapter of 1 John and underline how many times the word is used. First, John writes, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (1 John 5:2). What does God say to do? Have you done it? If you have, then you know something, don’t you?

What about eternal life? Is it possible to know that we have eternal life? John writes, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). Study the writings of John (and the rest of the New Testament), measure yourself by those writings, and you can know whether you measure up!

Can we have confidence in our prayers? John writes, “And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:15). We can know it!

We know the danger of sin and the importance of being born again (1 John 5:18). We know the dangers of worldliness (1 John 5:19). We know the truth of Jesus’ coming (1 John 5:20). We know.

How do you measure up to the things revealed, to the things that you know? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead? Have you confessed that belief before others? Have you repented of your sins and turned to God to serve Him? Have you been baptized to have your sins washed away? Are you obeying what He has revealed in His Scriptures?

If you have done these things and you continue in the faith, you can know you have eternal life!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 258/260: James, the Brother of Jesus

Read James 2:14-26

Faith Only?

“Faith only” is a reckless doctrine promoted by too many so-called Christian churches. This doctrine is patently false, as seen in James 2:14-26. James declares, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). This is the only time in the entire Bible that the words “faith” and “only” appear together, and James plainly states that justification cannot be found in a person by “faith only.”

James builds up to this point first by presenting a hypothetical situation in which a person is made aware of someone else’s need. If you do nothing for that person but wish them well, can you truly say you have faith? If you have the means to help but only offer “thoughts and prayers,” have you offered anything of substance? Certainly, prayer is important (James 5:16)! But physical needs still must be met!

James next points to the example of Abraham, who was “justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar” (James 2:21). Could the patriarch have been justified if he had not been willing to obey God? “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:22).

Let us be very careful that we do not try to teach something that the Bible clearly states is false doctrine. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).

If your faith is defined by nothing more than attendance to a Sunday morning worship service, is it true faith? Assembling with the church is important, make no mistake about that, but there is so much more to Christianity than sitting in a pew for an hour or two in a 168-hour week! “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Are you working for the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58)? Are you doing good things for other people (Galatians 6:10)? Are you shining your light and pointing others to the Christ who can save them (Matthew 5:16)?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 257/260: Paul

Read Acts 24:22-27; 25:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

The Importance Of The Resurrection

Paul was arrested and sent to Caesarea to stand trial before Felix. Felix found no reason to punish Paul, but still left him in chains to appease the Jews. Paul had an opportunity to preach to Felix and his wife Drusilla, and he spoke “about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25). Just as Felix refused to make a decision about Paul’s criminal case, he refused to make a decision about his own spiritual condition. For two years Paul was held, though he was innocent of all charges.

Then Festus came to office. The Jews wanted Festus to hear Paul’s case, and the governor was disappointed that the matter was nothing more than a religious dispute “about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive” (Acts 25:19). In that statement, perhaps we get a small glimpse of what kept Paul going despite his imprisonment.

Paul’s hope and faith rested in the resurrection. It was evident in his preaching. How often had Paul declared that “God raised (Jesus) from the dead” (Acts 13:30), or “that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (Acts 17:3)? He declared that Jesus would judge the world and that God “has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

His hope and faith in the resurrection were also evident in Paul’s writing. He wrote, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

The hope of our resurrection rests on the Lord’s resurrection. Study 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, which teaches the futility of faith if the resurrection is not true. Paul declared, “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Corinthians 6:14).

Have you died to your sins and been buried in baptism? If you have, you can have the hope of eternity with Him because of His resurrection!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 256/260: Paul and the Ephesians

Read Acts 20:17-36

Paul’s Farewell To The Ephesian Elders

In Paul’s farewell address to the elders of the church in Ephesus, he reminded them how he himself had behaved during their time together. He worked and lived “in all humility” (Acts 20:19), evidenced by his willingness to support himself financially.

As a teacher, he employed different methods to reach potential converts to Christ, teaching both “publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:20), and reaching both “Jews, and also to Greeks” (Acts 20:21). No one should be excluded from the saving message of the gospel.

He also taught the necessity of “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). A person who proclaims faith in Jesus but does not change his sinful behaviors is a walking contradiction. If you truly believe that Jesus will punish the sinful, you will repent!

Paul reminded the elders of their great responsibility to the church. He said, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock” (Acts 20:28). They needed to watch out for each other and for every Christian under their care. Christians need to remember they have a responsibility toward their elders as well. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).

Dangerous times lay ahead; Paul warned that “savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29) and that “from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things” (Acts 20:30). False doctrine is dangerous, and the elders were warned to be vigilant against it.

Paul also taught the value of the church. Many people today do not place any value on the church, but God “purchased (the church) with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). When is the last time you bought something so valuable that it cost you your blood?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 255/260: Paul and the Ephesians

Read Acts 19:1-7; Ephesians 4:4-6

One Baptism

Baptism is a very touchy subject for a lot of people. One group teaches one thing about baptism, while another teaches something entirely different. How are we to know what is correct?

God has revealed for us exactly what He wants us to know about baptism. First, it is immersion. This is the very definition of the Greek word God used. Words have meanings, and we cannot change the meanings of words just because we don’t like them. If God wanted to indicate sprinkling as a proper way to baptize, He would have used a different Greek word.

God also revealed the purpose of baptism. Take some time to look at these Scriptures and see what is written:

• It is for salvation (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
• It is “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
• It will “wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16).
• It is the means by which one gets “into Christ” and “into His death” (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3-4).

These are not trivial matters. They are eternally significant.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I don’t think this is how or why I was baptized.” You are not alone. There were twelve men in Ephesus in the same situation. They had been taught the baptism of John, not the baptism of Jesus. They had not been baptized for the proper purpose. What did they do when they found out? “When they heard this, they were baptized int eh name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5).

Does it really matter, though? Paul wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Paul included seven things in this inspired list of “ones.” If “one baptism” is as good as another, why isn’t “one God” as good as another?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 254/260: Apollos

Read Acts 18:24-28; 1 Corinthians 3:5-8

Understanding The Way Of God Accurately

How do you respond when you are told that you are wrong? Most people get defensive. It’s not a good feeling to be wrong about something. We must be humble, however, and realize that we don’t always have all the answers. We are not always right. Sometimes we are wrong.

Apollos was “born at Alexandria” (Acts 18:24), a city known for good education. Apollos was very likely an intelligent man. He was also “eloquent” (Acts 18:24). He was able to clearly communicate ideas in such a way that people could understand what he meant. Not only that, but he was “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). He had a grasp on the Old Testament Law, the history of the Jewish people, the poetry of David, and the prophetic works.

“This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25). Now we’ve got a problem. He knew what he needed to know up to a point, but his knowledge stopped short of all that he needed to know.

Thankfully, Aquila and Priscilla saw the deficiency in his knowledge and set out to complete it. Privately, without embarrassing Apollos, they “explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Had this couple made a public spectacle of Apollos’ ignorance, he may have doubled down and refused to listen. But because of their humility and tact, they were able to set the record straight and help the cause of the kingdom.

Armed with more accurate knowledge, Apollos went to Achaia and “greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:27-28).

Apollos was such an asset to the Lord’s church that in his letter to Corinth, Paul commended his work while reminding the Corinthians that preachers are God’s servants, and it is God who ultimately causes growth in the gospel.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 253/260: Aquila and Priscilla

Read Acts 18:1-4, 24-26; Romans 16:3-4

Hospitable, Humble, And Heroic

There are many individuals mentioned in the book of Acts and in the letters of Paul about whom we simply do not know very much. Take, for instance, some of the brothers and sisters Paul mentions in the last chapter of Romans: Phoebe, Epaenetus, Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, and Urbanus. Then there are others that we get to know a little better, such as Aquila and Priscilla.

When first introduced to this godly couple, we learn of their hospitality. The inspired record tells us that they were tentmakers, and as such Paul “stayed with them and worked” since he was also a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). They opened their home to a brother in Christ. I can recall several times that visiting evangelists would stay in my home when I was young. My parents were excellent hosts like Aquila and Priscilla.

We also learn of this couple’s humility even in the face of error. There was a man named Apollos who was very zealous in his teaching, but he did not have all the information he needed; “he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25). The Christian couple did not stand up in the middle of his teaching and shout him down. “When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). What a noble example of “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

But there is another piece of information Paul reveals in Romans 16 about this couple. While we do not have the full details, Paul says that this husband-and-wife team “risked their own necks for my life” (Romans 16:4). Not only were they hospitable and humble, but they were also heroic to the point that in some way they saved Paul’s life and his divine mission to the Gentile world. Oh, how I would love to hear the details of that epic adventure!

Aquila and Priscilla will forever stand as excellent examples of hospitality, humility, and heroism. May we strive to be more like them in our Christian service!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 252/260: The Philippian Jailer

Read Acts 16:25-34

The Urgency Of Salvation

“What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Is there a more important question when it comes to spiritual matters? Is there a more important question at all? The Philippian jailer may not have even understood how important that question was when he asked it.

Paul and Silas told the jailer the first step on the path to salvation: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). Why didn’t these gospel preachers tell the jailer about repentance? What about the good confession? Why not command him to be immersed?

The answer to these questions is quite simple: he wasn’t ready to hear those things. He had to learn about Jesus first. He had to learn what Jesus had accomplished for him at the cross. He had to come to a knowledge of the Savior before he could act on anything else. Once he was told about the Lord, Paul and Silas proceeded to give him further instructions. How do we know this?

Luke tells us about his repentance! “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes” (Acts 16:33). The jailer repented of the torture he had inflicted upon these innocent men by treating their wounds.

Luke tells us also about his immersion, and the urgency of it! “And immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33). Why were they baptized “immediately”? Why not set up an appointment for the next Sunday? The answer to this is also simple: the jailer was not promised a “next Sunday.”

No one knows how much time they have left in this life. If you believe what you have read in the Bible and you trust the Lord to do what He has promised, obey Him without delay! Repent and be baptized to have your sins forgiven forever and live a life of service for the Lord!