ACTS 21:37 – 25:22

Hey guys, just wanna first start out by saying get ready cause this post is about to be super long. Too many great things to talk about about throughout these 4-5ish chapters! Enjoy!

Chapter 22 

With all of us having gone through high school and half of us have gone onto college, I think we can all relate to Paul in chapter 22. It starts out with Paul being arrested (even though he had not been proven guilty of any charge) because the people did not like that he was telling them to disregard the Law of Moses. As he was being arrested he asked the commander if he could speak to the people in hopes to give his defense and spread the word of God to those who were there to listen. When he asked the commander, it caught him off guard that Paul could speak Greek. Paul was so intentional with his actions and chose to speak to him in Greek to show the commander and those who were arresting him that he was not just some random guy who had come to cause riots. Because of this, he was able to stand before the people and give his testimony. He didn’t start out by just preaching to the people because he knew that they would have no desire to listen to him. Instead he starts by trying to find common ground and relate to the people, after doing so, he gave his testimony.

I know a lot of us feel uncomfortable bringing up God to others around us because we are afraid of how they will react.. Especially during our high school years because no matter what you say, someone is always going to disagree and try to tear you down. As I went into my freshman year of college I was determined to talk to my roommate and my friends about God and possibly even lead them to Christ (I was so excited), but when the opportunity arose, I chickened out because I did not know how to start the conversation or what to say after it had been started. I didn’t want to straight up just start preaching to them because that can be weird and uncomfortable even for people who do believe in Christ right? After seeing how Paul built common ground with the people, I realized that I had been too worried about telling them about God and wanting to impact their lives that I forgot that it would be helpful to build some kind of relationship with them first. I know that I have talked to a few people who also struggle with this and I found that this story involving Paul definitely brought to my attention how we can have the courage to spread the gospel to our family and friends. 

Chapter 23 

What stuck out to me the most in Chapter 23 is that it started off with Paul saying to Ananias, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck.” After he had said this, the people around him were shocked that he had insulted God’s high priest. To this Paul replies that he did not realize that Ananias was God’s high priest because he had broken his own laws. 

This story is so important and relatable because we are on this earth to represent God and to preach the gospels to everyone we come in contact with. How are we going to lead others to Christ if we have no influence over the people we come in contact with? It is so important for our actions to reflect our words for us to be consider authentic and taken seriously!!!

Another thing that stuck out to me is how Paul’s sister’s son heard of their plan to ambush Paul and ran straight to Paul to deliver this news. By being bold and confident in what he had heard and relaying the information to Paul, he played a huge role in saving Paul’s life.

I’ve heard it said a million times that God uses people of all ages to bring others to Christ, but I never actually deep down believed that He could use me. After faithfully serving in Detour (due to someones ask and not saying no for me) for about a year, I have seen many young leaders influence so many kids that I cannot believe how wrong I was. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something because you are too young or too small or not skilled enough, God can use anyone to do anything, all we have to do is let him guide us and let his will be done in our lives!

Chapter 24/25

Paul was speaking the truth of The Lord to Felix (the governor) and Felix had no problem talking to Paul about Christ until Paul brought up righteousness, self-control, and judgment. When these topics arose, Felix became uncomfortable and sent Paul away because he did not want to feel convicted by what he was doing or saying on a daily basis.

Although getting personal and having someone hold you accountable may cause you to become uncomfortable or defensive, these people have good intentions and are only interested in helping you dig deeper into your faith. Our accountability groups are definitely one of my favorite parts of the internship because they challenge me to make life-changing decisions so that I may strengthen my relationship with Christ. So as we carry out the rest of the summer don’t be afraid to get personal with the people in your accountability groups as well as others in the internship!

 

Being assigned this blog was no accident and God totally knew what He was doing when He placed this opportunity in my hands. Such a learning experience with the things I struggle with most! It is crazy to see how much He has worked in my heart already this summer. Tom and Herc and all the leaders have continuously said, “You get out of it what you put into it,” and by comparing last summer with this summer, I couldn’t say it any better myself! So I just want to encourage you all to dig deep and stay disciplined and say yes to some things you normally wouldn’t! Lets all step out of our comfort zones this next month and half of the internship and see what God has in store for us! 

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Acts 19-21;36

Hey y’all sorry this is so late!!!! Got caught up playing with my nieces and didn’t realize that it was this late.. blah blah I know!!! Well here it is!!

  It starts out great by going straight into baptism! Talked about being baptized into the name of the Lord which we all know is the first step in your walk with Christ to be saved and then the journey begins!  As we all know Paul did great work through Jesus.  He went with Jesus and the disciples for 2 years, followed him around teaching his name.  The first thing that came to my mind was this internship.  We have the chance for at least 3-4 years with our Obterns to go around to different places teaching people everyday.  I’m not saying you can only do it through this, but we have a great community of college age kids that are seeking him and learning everyday and we can be the light that brings kids and even elders to know him.  Especially these next few weeks with Haiti and VBS.  This just goes on and on about how Paul traveled around preaching his name.  I feel like all of us going to college all over whether it is in Hillsboro, or St. Louis, or Arkansas, or Columbia, etc. we can go around and keep speaking his name and spreading the word.  Paul was not ashamed and we shouldn’t be either.  People are going to probably judge you and mock you, but that is just society today.  If you aren’t drinking or doing drugs, you’re probably not doing something right to them… Just sayin! lol. Being a follower is all about getting out of your comfort zone and doing things that you couldn’t see yourself doing.  “Acts 20:19-20 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.  You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.”  I know I keep repeating this but I feel and what I got most out of these chapters was how much Paul showed his love for Jesus! He kept going and kept going preaching his name!

I got the chills in Acts 21 when it says they heard this, meaning what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry, and they praised him. I just imagine people bowing down before him, sheading tears, giving their lives to him!! WHOA!!! Chills right!?!? 🙂  I’m not telling y’all to go and get arrested like Paul did but go and preach his name to the fullest! I feel that I may be repeating over and over again but Paul never stopped.  He went from place to place, spoke his word loud and clear and then moved on to the next. He was BOLD and was not afraid because he knew that it was what he was made to do!

Again sorry this was so late and not so long everyone!!! It was a great and strong read! Got the chills many times!!

Much Love!

 

Acts 16-18

Hello wonderful people and welcome to my blog! I get to write about Acts 16-18. These chapters are filled with example after example of obedience and surrender to God’s will and His faithfulness to this surrender. Thousands of people are saved in these chapters as a result of a few men and Gods mercy. These stories have provided an insight on a couple points.

               First of all if you’re ever feeling discouraged or like God can’t use you, read these chapters! As I was reading them I was filled with encouragement and hope. Paul is used in HUGE ways when not that long ago he was as far as he could be from God. He not only is an example of the power of Gods redemption and love for us but also of what our lives as Christians should look like. Daily surrender, prayer, praise, and a mindset set not on things of this world but on the cross and on heaven he gladly shares and spreads the gospel. He is living boldly, risking his life for Gods glory, and fulfilling the life he was called to live. The story of Paul “praying and singing hymns to God” after being attacked, stripped, beaten, severely flogged, and thrown into prison with Silas in chapter 16 is one a lot of us have heard before yet it continues to convict and challenge me every time I read or am reminded of it. How many times am I “mad” at God or angry with circumstances and, whether on purpose or not, don’t spend time with him? Too many I’ll just leave it at that. Luckily, it was Paul in that situation not me because he was understood that it wasn’t all about him and able to get over himself enough to remember that God is good, all the time. Because of this multiple prisoners heard the word of God and the jailer and his whole family were saved and baptized! God literally promises us that this world is going to be full of troubles, we’re going to encounter hardships and struggles and at times it’s going to be really tough but his promises are so much greater and so much more, and He is bigger. Chapter 17, verse 27 says “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” God is right here, working for our good and sometimes that includes struggles. Like Elijah mentioned in his testimony we need to be grateful for our struggles, because who knows where we would be without them. In the midst of hard times we need to praying, receiving messages with great eagerness, examining scriptures with great eagerness every day, praising with joyful hearts, and earnestly seeking Him and His kingdom because our God redeems and He will redeem these struggles. After reading these chapters, the main point that stuck with me was just how great is our God? How faithful, how loving, how true, there is none more able and none more worthy of my praise. I am serving the same God that Paul served and I wanna get out there and start living like it.

Thanks for reading!

Go be rock stars! J

Acts 13-15

“Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.” This quote comes straight out of Acts 13:26. This is one thing I have seen time after time in my own life with my friends and family. People tell me “oh your faith is good for you but I can not do church or the Christianity thing. This verse clearly says that the gospel is for US. Not only the good people, the rich people, or the Americans, but for us. When Paul addresses the Gentiles and the children of Abraham he is not being selective those were the only people he was surrounded with.

 

Another thing that stood out to me and I had never realized before was that Jesus was not only resurrected because he had to conquer the grave and defeat sin but as said in Acts 13:34 “God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay” psalms also this was prophesized in psalms 16:10 where the psalmist writes” for you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.

 

Luke also writes about how our sins are forgiven. He goes into talk about how Jesus changed the ways of life because we no longer have to abide by the laws of Moses and sacrafices. Acts also tells about what will happen when you put your faith, hope, and trust in Jesus. In Acts 13:41 “I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if you were told.”

 

            Throughout Acts 14 we are shown how to evangelize. The disciples went out evangelizing to many cities in their area. The cities did not always trust them or believe them. On one occasion the people of Lystra decided that Paul and Barnabas were really Zeus and Hermes so the people tried to offer them sacrifices. In acts 14:15 Paul does something that many of us need to remember to do. By reminding us we are like non-believers and we should not think of ourselves as being any better than the non-Christians because we are all sinners. Paul says “We too are only human, like you.” This is why testimonies are a great way to talk to others. Showing them that you have battled the same battles that they may currently be going through.

 

            As much evangelizing as Paul did in this chapter of acts he also showed his wisdom. Paul realized when to stay and try to help the people realize what God really wanted and other times he realized when to leave because his sermons were falling upon deaf ears. This is also a great lesson for us. If we keep bringing up the gospel to people who don’t want to hear it we will just push them further away from the church. Although, Paul sets a good example by telling everyone about Jesus at least once. It is the people who have heard it and do not want to listen to Paul that causes him to leave.

 

In Acts 15 there is a large portion about Barnabas and Paul they go to Jerusalem to answer the question if Gentiles needed to be circumcised. The religious leaders of the time replied by examining the grace that God shows them “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:11 This is a good teaching tool in todays society and in the past because we do not want to put higher expectations on new Christians because it will deter people from finding their savior.

 

            At the end of Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas split apart after having a disagreement. I think this is put into the bible to show that just because something doesn’t work out doesn’t mean you need to stop believing in Christ. Both men after they split up continue to make disciples    

Acts 10-12 by Taylor Hassell

Okay so this particular section of Acts is full of interaction between the people of the world and the angels, Holy Spirit, and God himself in heaven. For me, it’s sometimes kind of difficult to understand and accept that these encounters with angels and audible conversations with God actually used to happen. It’s really really cool, but just kind of a foreign concept compared to the way we interact with God now.

Chapter 10 is a story about Cornelius and his family being saved through Peter sharing the Gospel with them. However, getting Peter to them was an ordeal full of visions of God. First, Cornelius sees a vision where God tells him to send for Peter, and to have Peter brought back to his house in order for his family to be saved. Next, we learn that Peter has this crazy “Revelations Style” vision where he sees a sheet being lowered from heaven, full of God’s many different creations. God tells him to “Kill and eat”, but Peter resists. Peter says he will never eat anything unclean. God corrects him, and tells him to never call any of His creations unclean or impure. This vision is significant because Cornelius was a Gentile, and Gentiles were considered to be unclean by the Jews. Before this vision, Peter, like most Jews, would have never associated himself with any Gentiles. But because of this vision from God, Peter’s judgemental heart is softened and he goes with Cornelius’ servants back to Cornelius’ home. At this point, Peter still has no idea why he is going to Cornelius’ house, but by removing his judgemental attitude and just simply listening and following God, Peter goes on to share the gospel with Cornelius and his family. He eventually baptizes the entire family, and as Cornelius’ vision said, his family was saved.

I think this part of the story is really applicable to my life, and I’m sure some of yours as well. We live in world that’s so worried about status and appearance, and as hard as we may try, sometimes we get caught up in those things as well. When our priorities get flipped around, it prevents us from living the loving, God-honoring life we are called to live. I wonder how many times just in my life I could have led someone to Christ just by talking with them about God, but instead I let judgement get in the way. Maybe I looked down on someone because of the way they looked, dressed, or talked, and let those things overpower the love I should have had for them. This story about Peter forgetting Cornelius’ status and focusing on his need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ is an inspiration and a reminder of how we should live.

The first part of Chapter 11 is simply a recap of what happened in Chapter 10. The apostles questioned Peter and criticized him for interacting and associating with Gentiles. Peter explained his visions, and after hearing about him saving and baptizing Cornelius’s family, the apostles were inspired. They are so encouraged by Peter’s story that they travel throughout multiple countries, spreading the Gospel to people of all kinds, not just Jews. Also, one cool side-note in Chapter 11 is that the term “Christian” was coined at the church of Antioch.

In Chapter 12, there is another weird interaction between an angel and Peter. King Herod, who was not at all with this whole “God thing”, arranged the apostle James’ murder, and after receiving some praise for it, decided to have Peter arrested with intentions of killing him as well. (He had heard about the word of God spreading and knew Peter was a man of God, so he thought he’d go ahead and shut that down ASAP. ) Herod has Peter on that day’s version of “solitary confinement”. This dude is being watched at all hours, by four different groups of four men. Brent and Justin, correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s 16 trained soldiers whose sole responsibility is to keep Peter locked down. Well ole Pete had God on his side, so good luck, fellas. While Peter was in prison, the church prayed intentionally and “earnestly” for him, and God honored their bold prayers. The night before Peter’s trial, an angel appears to Peter in his cell and wakes him up. The angel removed his chains and snuck him out of the prison. Now, the Bible says he was chained down and was sleeping in between two guards. I don’t know how this fool woke up and got out of some chains without waking anybody up, but I guess if Jesus can walk on water, this wasn’t no thing but a chicken wing for the big man upstairs. Anyway, they get out of the prison and when they get to the gate at the edge of the city that is normally locked, the angel goes on ahead and unlocks that junk too, and Peter follows the angel the heck up out of there. So Peter goes back to his house where his friends and family are all praying for him to be set free and stuff, and when he knocks on the door, this servant girl answers. She runs into the room where everyone is praying to tell them Peter is at the door and they are like “Yeah okay kiddo. Whatever you say”, and then they go back to praying. Then the girl is like “No really, he’s at the door!” and they still aren’t really believing her. Now, why Peter didn’t just let himself in after escaping prison and running from the most powerful guy in all the land, I do not know. But finally someone decides to follow the little girl to the door and, sure enough, Pete is standing there like “Yo, sorry I’m late, I got caught caught up in some prison but I blew that popsicle stand. What’s for dinner?” Then he told them to tell James and some of the other brothers about the angel helping him escape and he left to go somewhere else.

As you can imagine, the next morning King Herod woke up thinking he was gonna get the okay to execute some fool who kept talking about God after he clearly told him not to, so when he walked down to the jail cell and Peter wasn’t in there, he was not in the best mood he’d ever been in. He had his guards that were supposed to be watching Peter killed, so he may have overexaggerated a tad bit, but either way, he left Judea and went to Caesarea. One day, Herod delivered some public address to the people, and these clowns started calling him a god, not a man. Now, if you had just captured a man you knew was a follower of God and he escaped your 24-hour watch on him, AND you knew God told you not to worship any idols other than Him, would you let a bunch of people call you a god without being like “No. no. not me. The glory goes to the real God in heaven” ? Yeah me either. But this thick-headed dude got all caught up in people praising him and just let it happen. God was like “Is this dude serious? He ain’t gonna give me praise? He has to be the most arrogant, stubborn fool on the planet” so an angel struck Herod down and had him eaten by worms. Moral of the story? Don’t screw with God or with people following God, because you’re gonna look like a moron and God can have some worms eat you if He wants.

In all seriousness, these three chapters are perfect examples of why we should trust God, and always remember that ALL people are His treasured children and His perfect creation. So, lets make sure we do our best to remove our judgement, share the good news of Jesus, and for Pete’s sake, don’t test God. (See what I did there? I said “for Pete’s sake”. Like Peter. The guy we just read about. The dude God kept saving when people would test Him. Get it?)

Acts 7-9

I’d like to start by apologizing…sorry this is going to be really long!  There is just a lot of good stuff, and I don’t want to leave any of it out! 

Acts is a pretty awesome book.  It’s all about the first church and the Holy Spirit working in a bunch of really awesome people who are on fire for God.  In our reading today, we got a glimpse into the lives of a few really cool guys.

Acts 7 is all about Stephen.  What really struck me in this chapter is that, in the same way we study people in the Bible, the people in the Bible studied each other.  This shows me how real these people were, just like you and me.  A lot of times I forget that.  I put Bible characters up on pedestals because, I mean, come on, they made the cut…they are part of what we as Christians believe and the book that we place so much value in.  But anyway, Stephen brings up Abraham and how God promised that his descendants would inherit all the land.  He talks about Joseph and how God raised him up to be a ruler…he was in charge of Egypt…that is no small feat.  Stephen also brings up Moses and how he delivered the people out of Egypt, from the hands of the Pharaoh.  Moses alone was not at all fit to do this, but through God, he rose above his own strength and God provided.  All of these men that Stephen mentioned have one major thing in common:  when they fully trusted and put their faith in God, He provided.  This teaches us a lot about who God calls us to be and what we can accomplish when we are all in for Christ.  Stephen trusted God, even when they drug him out of the city and stoned him at the end of the chapter; verse 60 says “Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’”  This is crazy to me!  If someone was killing me, I’m pretty sure my first thought would not be “Jesus, please forgive them.”  This definitely should be our prayer, to have the love and heart of Stephen. 

Acts 8 is all about Philip.  During Saul’s persecution, the people scattered.  One of those people was Philip.  Philip went from city to city preaching the good news to anyone who would listen.  He is not afraid to share his faith.  He is not afraid of what people think.  He is not afraid to be rejected.  He does not fear.  This is really comforting to me.  It is a reminder that, because I have Christ in my life, I don’t need to be afraid and that God will protect me and will give me words to speak when sharing my faith with others.  In the last half of the chapter Philip helps an Ethiopian understand what he is reading.  God gives us opportunities to share the truth with people and help them understand.  I want to be able to say I stepped up and took those opportunities like Philip did.

Acts 9 is about Saul (who we know to be Paul).  In this chapter Jesus calls out Saul’s persecution.  After being spoken to, he is blinded.  He listens to God and goes into the city of Damascus.  Saul makes a complete 180 and, after receiving his sight back, begins to preach to people about God.  The chapter ends with Peter healing a paralyzed man and raising a dead woman back to life.  In Saul’s life, we see him turn from the life he lived to follow something much greater.  In Peter, we see his faith in God shown through healing others. 

These people are all great examples of how we should live a Christ-centered life.  God calls us to be all in for Him, and as a community of believers, we can support each other in our walks with God.  I hope this summer challenges you to live all in for Christ!

-Brittney 

Acts 4-6 – Luke

Hey everybody! Hope you all had a great day! This is the fourth time I’m trying to post this because my computer has been acting all crazy, so I’m sorry that it’s late! Today’s reading is a lot of what Oak Bridge is about (community).  It also talks about boldness which is what we have been talking about throughout the internship. So I feel like today’s reading is really geared toward us because of what we are trying to accomplish this summer (I will explain what I’m talking about). Let’s get started!

In the beginning of Acts 4 it talks about how the priests and Sadducee’s were upset with Peter and John for teaching about the resurrection of Jesus. The rulers then placed them in jail and questioned them, asking, “By what power or what name did you do this?” Peter replies “…..It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that is this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ ……For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  To me, this would be a slap to the face of the priests and rulers because it’s basically saying, “The man that you are throwing me in jail for, and telling me to not teach about, is the same man that is the only one by which we all can even be saved.”  They end up letting Peter and John go, but told them that they must not teach about the name of Jesus. Peter and John obviously don’t listen.  How many of us would be afraid of the possible punishment and hide our faith, and listen to the rulers? On the release of Peter and John, the people raised their voices to God in prayer asking for boldness in ministry for the servants of the Lord and asked for a healing hand to perform wonders.  Boldness is one thing that we are trying to accomplish this summer. We are all called to be bold. This next part is crazy; The believers sharing their possessions?! What?! This part is all about community. The people are so on fire for God that they share everything with everyone and even sell their land to give the money to the ministry to help those in need. Now I know we have great community, but this group of people literally gave everything they had just to help others who needed it. This is another thing we are accomplishing this summer, community.

Acts 5 is where we are tested.  Ananias and his wife sell their property, but keep some of the money for themselves.  Both of them die at the feet of Peter.  This is where we are tested. Many of us, including myself, hold back from God; not giving everything we have in our relationship with God or even to help others in need. We tend to be selfish and hold on  to things that we don’t necessarily need, but what we want.  The people in this community were so unselfish. In today’s world, the standard for unselfishness is what we live by, but we should be holding ourselves to a higher standard, the standards of Jesus, and what is shown here in this chapter.  The apostles continue to heal all the sick, and those who are tormented by “impure” spirits. The priests then become jealous and arrest the apostles. Over night, an angel came to them and opened the doors of the jail telling them to tell the people about the “new life.”  The priests are astounded and soon find the apostles in the temple. They become furious and want to kill the apostles, but a man by the name of Gamaliel persuades them to let them go. The apostles are then flogged/beaten.  The crazy part about all of this is once they are let go, the apostles start rejoicing. They’ve just been beaten, and now they are praising God. At first we might think “Why would they start rejoicing?! you just got beat” but the fact is that they were rejoicing because first, they were only flogged and not killed, and second, they are thankful for the grace of God to even give them life.  Many of us would just live in the moment and get mad at a situation (like we do every day) but not look at the big picture or even be thankful for the situations that God is placing us in.  This must have taken some extreme faith to continue to teach about Jesus and then continue to rejoice after they have just been beaten. I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to say that I have that kind of faith.

Acts 6 is about the choosing of the seven. It is basically about the twelve apostles handing down a duty to seven others who are Spirit-filled and full of wisdom. These 7 are to deal with the distribution of food equally and make sure that everyone is being taken care of equally while the twelve continue to minister and pray.  One of the seven, Stephen, has a particular part in the Bible that is recognized because he is accused of speaking blasphemous words when in reality he hasn’t done anything wrong.

I hope we all continue to pray for boldness, strong community, and extreme faith.  We are to be a light in this dark world. It starts with our community as obterns. Let’s become as strong and faithful as those people we read about. Let’s be bold like Peter and John. Hope you guys enjoyed the reading. Love you all!