365 Days of Grace From God's Word

Month: July 2022

Lessons From Apollos

Acts 18:18 – Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.

23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. (NIV)

In today’s reading from the Book of Acts, we encounter a man named Apollos.  Who was Apollos?  In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul includes Apollos as an Apostle, so he must have been a very important person in the early Church. We know from today’s reading that he was an Egyptian from Alexandria, and we know that he was a bold preacher.  Jerome (347-420 AD) recorded that Apollos eventually became the Bishop of the Christian Church in Corinth.  There are many scholars who believe that Apollos wrote the book of the Bible that we know as ‘Hebrews’, though we do not know for certain.

What I find most interesting about Apollos from our reading today, is that he loved God so much that he humbled himself before others and was teachable.  Have you ever met a Christian who would not listen to sound teaching?  Oh, there are more than a few out there!  Apollos knew the Scriptures well (our Old Testament), and so when others explained Christian doctrine to him, he was able to understand and accept their teachings.  Therefore it is important for us to make Bible study a regular part of our lives.  When someone teaches us something, and we have a basic knowledge of the Scriptures, we can better know if what they are teaching is of sound doctrine.

Apollos presents to us a great lesson for today.  Read and study God’s Word, and be open to what others would teach you, while always returning to God’s Word for affirmation!

Posted by Ramón Torres

When We Are Afraid

Psalm 56:1 – Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps,
hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down.

Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me? (NIV)

We all face fears in life. What do you fear?  We may fear the loss of health, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one.  We may fear for family and friends who are facing hardships.  We may fear economic hardships.  Whatever it is, we all have fears in life.  The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who feared, but it is also filled with stories of men and women who trusted in the Lord to see them through those times.  Psalm 56 was written by David during a difficult time in his life. We should note that David had many warriors who were loyal to him, and who would have laid down their lives for David.  When David faced difficulty, the very first place to which he turned was to God.  He wrote in verse three: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Where do we turn first when we are afraid?  Where do we seek security?  Many people, when they are fearful of the days ahead, turn to destructive behaviors, chemicals, and addictive behaviors.  They claim that they find comfort in such things.  None of those things last and are of no benefit.  When we are afraid, we should turn to God.  In verse four, David said that he would turn to the Word of God, which he would praise.

Today, when we face fearful moments, let us turn to God’s Word.  Let us praise the one who knows us better than we know ourselves.  Let us trust God and no longer be afraid, for what can anyone do to us when God is for us?

Posted by Ramón Torres

Resisting Temptation

Luke 4:1 – Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (NIV)

Today’s reading is the familiar story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.  We must resist our own temptation of reading too casually the familiar stories of the Bible.  There are, indeed, many lessons to learn from this short passage, but let’s focus on two.

First, we cannot escape temptation.  We can pray to God, praise and worship God, read God’s Word, and be at church every time the doors are opened, but we will still face temptation.  If God in the flesh faced it, there is no escaping it for us.  It’s a given – we will be tempted.

This leads us to our second point for today. What should we do when we face temptation?  We should do the same thing that Jesus did – we should turn to God’s Word.  When Jesus was hungry and tempted to turn a stone into bread, he turned to Deuteronomy 8:3.  When he was tempted to use his power for worldly fame, he turned to Deuteronomy 6:13.  Even when the devil used Scripture to tempt Jesus (he quoted from Psalm 91:11-12), Jesus responded with Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:16).

Perhaps, I am preaching to the choir, since those of you reading this are studying Scripture, but today’s reading teaches us that we must be grounded in God’s Word.  We don’t have to be able to quote chapter and verse, but we should be familiar enough with Scripture so that when we need it, we can recall what we need.

Today I thank you for your faithful reading and studying of God’s Word, and I encourage you to persevere even when the Scriptures are difficult to understand. 

Posted by Ramón Torres 

A Faith Of Our Own

Acts 19:11 –  God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (NIV)

Some of the stories from the Bible seem so strange, and so far removed from us, that we often overlook them.  When we do this, we are in danger of failing to apply biblical truths into our own lives. Today’s reading may have some seemingly strange happenings, but there is a great truth to be learned.

In this reading we encounter some individuals who were trying to call upon the name of Jesus, but they had no real relationship with Jesus.  They had seen other’s who had a relationship with Jesus do mighty works, but they were unable to do anything in Jesus’ name.  The name of Jesus is not magic!  We need to have a relationship with Jesus in order to receive from Jesus what Jesus supplies: certainly salvation, but also strength for daily living.  I have known some people, who when facing difficult times in life, pray fervently.  However, they often had not prayed, nor had they read God’s Word, since the last time they faced difficulties in life.  This type of behavior simply will be of no benefit to us.  Our difficulties may simply remain, as if they were to say to us: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”

Any relationship needs to be nurtured, and it is no different in our relationship with Jesus.  The Good News for us today is that the Bible is filled with wonderful stories of people who were able to overcome difficulties in their lives because they nurtured their relationship with God.  Today, let us do what we can to grow in our relationship with God through Christ, so that our own faith – not the faith of someone else – will see us through life’s difficulties.

Posted by Ramón Torres

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