Acts 28

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“The brothers there had heard that we were coming and they traveled … to meet us.  At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” (v 15)

After a long treacherous trip and a bit of refreshing along the way, Paul was more than ready to see kindred souls.  It’s the sense of family that comes among us, Your children, Lord, when we encounter one another.  Thanks for the times when You’ve allowed my life to connect with others who know You — whether I’ve hardly known them or known them well.


“It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” (v 20)

The “hope of Israel” was Your Son, Lord.  It’s like what Paul wrote to the Philippians, “…it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ” (Php 1:13 NIV).  No matter what state in which he found himself, Paul knew where his hope was.  Since the word “hope” most often denotes “assurance” when used in Your Word, here Paul expressed the assurance he had in knowing that even his chains were part of Your sovereign will … I have that same assurance available to me, don’t I? … Would You help me to relish it as much or more than Paul did, Father?


“Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” (v 28)

Paul knew exactly what You had called him to do and he knew that You had been carrying him along to do it.  He was seeing evidence of Your handiwork all around him, even in the one who guarded him.  He was convicted to carry out Your plan for his life right up to his death.

Father, what is that “one thing” You have for me to do in Your kingdom?  Have I been doing it and not recognizing it fully?  Have I been doing my own thing and not following You completely?  So many lives around me who need to know Your Son or know Him better … show me the niche You have for me and pump in that conviction like Paul had.


“Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (v 31).

Paul’s life was Yours; doing Your will was his life.  More and more, with each new dawn of Your mercy, may my will conform to Your will … May I know the reality each day of Your empowering presence within me as You keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Acts 27

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the ‘northeasterner,’ swept down from the island.  The ship was caught in the storm … When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved …

“After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: … I urge you to you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed … God has graciously given [me] the lives of all who sail with [me].  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.  Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” (v 14, 20-26 NIV)

One of the interesting things here, Lord, is that these people most likely wouldn’t have been IN this storm at all if they had listened to Paul’s advice about finding a safe harbor (v 9-12, 21).  Yet, the centurion chose not to listen to someone he could’ve thought to be a “nobody” and listened to some who were “somebodies” in his eyes (v 11).

Even after he wasn’t listened to the first time, Paul didn’t give up on the people.  The storm grew heavy and the outlook bleak, and then You stepped in to bolster up Paul’s strength.  You strengthened him, so he could strengthen others.

How many storms have You taken me through, Lord?  How many did I end up in the path of because I kept writing off the nudgings of others to stay near to You, to stay in Your Word, and to acknowledge You?

When I have been in those storms, You’ve sent Your very own messengers to point me to You, to remind me that You alone are the One who can ensure that “not one of you will be lost.”  Continue to instill in me the kind of faith that Paul had to be able to confidently say, “I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me” (v 26).  Make my faith strong, so that I can be an encourager to others caught up in the storm.  Amen.

Acts 25-26

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“…I have appeared to you to APPOINT you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of Me and what I will show you.  I will RESCUE you from your own people and from the Gentiles.  I am SENDING you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (v 16-18 NIV)


You stopped Saul in his tracks, Lord (Acts 9), and set into motion Your plan to APPOINT him to a particular role in Your kingdom.  He had been operating under what he believed to be the way to please You; yet, You awakened him to Your Truth.

You personally chose and set Paul (the name by which he was later known) into the position of being Your SERVANT and Your WITNESS.  You sent him to serve the Gentiles and to be a witness to them of what You can do in a life that surrenders to You.

You’ve told me in Your Word that You also have called and appointed me to be Your SERVANT and Your WITNESS.  You’ve set an example for me in Your own life on this earth.  You promise to walk with me always in the position in Your kingdom to which You’ve appointed me.

RESCUED (v 17)

When his own people didn’t understand Paul’s change or his fervor in following Your truth, they became a mob from whom You had to rescue him.  As in Paul’s life, Father, You’ve shown Your power over and over again over anything that attacks Your children.  You are my Shield, my Protector, and my Deliverer.

SENT (v 17-18)

Your appointment for Paul included sending him to a people different from his own, so that You could use him to “OPEN their eyes and to TURN them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.”  Then, You anticipated the result to be “that they may receive FORGIVENESS of sins and a PLACE among those who are sanctified by faith” in Jesus.

You open the eyes of people who need You, but don’t yet acknowledge You.  You help them to see You clearly, to see the reality of You.  In their realization they have the opportunity to turn away from the darkness and power of Satan.  You stretch out Your arms and welcome them toward the light of Your presence!  When they run to You, You forgive and sanctifying them, freeing them from sin and beginning to mold them to be just like Jesus.

THAT’s my story too, isn’t it, Father? …the parts about “opening” and “turning,” and the “forgiving” and “sanctifying”?  YOU appointed someone whom You had rescued and sent them to me, so that this latter part could be MY story.  And then, You appoint, rescue, and send ME out to keep the process going.  It’s all because of Your immense love for the people You’ve created!  Here am I, Lord; mold me, send me, use me.  Amen.

Acts 23-24

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess.  He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.  As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now!  You may leave.  WHEN I FIND IT CONVENIENT, I will send for you.’  At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.”  (v 24-26 NIV)

An interesting account this is, Lord.  Here’s a ruler showing some interest in this man who speaks about following You.  And yet, the message doesn’t penetrate his heart.  It just goes into his ears as words that he’s wading through in hopes of a bribe.  However, something was said that did spook him and get him to perk up a little.  At least, Paul kept on talking with every chance he got to speak to Felix, at Felix’s convenience, of course.

You’ve placed a few people like this in my life, Lord–the ones who only call when they find it convenient or when their lives meet a crisis.  As long as they call and express a willingness to listen, keep me talking, Lord.  I trust You to provide the words, the timing, the setting for each encounter, so that those who listen might at least have the opportunity to hear about You and all that You offer through Jesus.

Keep me alert to the opportunities You lay before me to share You with others.  Keep on making me like Jesus, so that HE is who they meet when they see me.  Amen.

Acts 22

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has CHOSEN you to KNOW His will and to SEE the Righteous One and to HEAR words from His mouth.  You will BE HIS WITNESS to all men of what you have seen and heard.  And now what are you waiting for?  Get up be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.'” (v 14-16 NIV)

You let Paul know through Ananias’ words that You had chosen him for a particular purpose in Your kingdom.  Not until later did You reveal more of Your will for Paul’s life in You, but he could know that You’d had him on Your mind and had woven him into Your purposes.

Through Your Word, You’ve let me know much the same affirmations as You did to Paul.  You even used his pen to write them out so long ago so that I could read them: “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight … In Him we were also chosen … in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:4, 11-12 NIV).

Thank You for choosing me, Lord.  Thank You for making it possible for me to know Your will.  Thank You for allowing me to see You — in Your Word, in Your people, in Your creation.  Thank You for allowing me to hear Your words by reading the Bible and listening to Your Spirit.  You just keep right on shaping me to be more like Jesus.  Amen.

Acts 21

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“…I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (v 13)

This statement of Paul’s reminds me of what Luke recorded of You, Lord, in Luke 9:51, “As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”  You KNEW exactly what was ahead of You on that route and yet You let nothing alter Your journey’s destination. (See other posting at Leading Toward Easter: The Determination of Jesus)

Paul later wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1 NIV).  Here, in this passage in Acts, it’s evident that he’s following in Your footsteps and completely committed to following You to death (knowing what awaits him beyond this life).

Someone who was acquainted with Paul, and may have been part of the ones trying to help him not get caught in this account (Ac 21:17-26), was Peter.  Later on, You moved him to write, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Pet 2:21 NIV).

At any given time, the tide could turn in this nation toward the persecution of Your followers, as in other countries.  YOU are my life, Jesus.  May I never hold too tightly to the things and people of this world that it would keep me from remaining true, bold and firm in my devotion to YOU.  May I truly, from the depths of my being, be able to say with Paul, “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  YOU were willing to be bound, beaten, and to die for ME, Lord Jesus.  Keep on making me just like You.  Amen.

Acts 19-20

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I my finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (v 24 NIV)

Father, thanks for Paul’s example of devotion to You:

his abandon — “I consider my life worth nothing to me”

his determination — “if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me”

his loyalty — “the task the LORD JESUS has given me”

his mission — “the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace”

Move me in a way that I’ve never seen before.  Draw me to the utter abandon of my will in order that I might completely seek, accept and live out Your will.  Instill in me a determination that just can’t be squelched as I go about serving You, Lord Jesus, with genuine loyalty and devotion.  Guide me in carrying out YOUR mission here in this world, in the corner of Your kingdom You’ve ordained as my mission field.

Help me to recognize Your work in and around me.  Make me vitally aware of Your presence, strength and other blessings as You continue Your work in me to make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Acts 18

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“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.” (v. 23)

Whether the “place to place” You guide me to is just down the road or across the state or country or globe, use me, Lord to strengthen the disciples of Christ whom I meet.  May encounters with me be a blessing that moves each heart closer to You.

Thank You that You promise to supply whatever I need to do Your work.  May my life introduce the seeking ones to You.  May I be a vessel of encouragement and hope for the despairing disciple.  May I be Your tool of compassion and comfort for the hurting and wounded ones.  Keep refining me to be just like Jesus and His reflection in this world.  Amen.

Acts 17

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” (v 24-25 NIV)

How awesome You are, my God!  YOU are my Source for all things, even my very breath.  YOU are God — there IS no other like You!

“From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times et for them and the exact places where they should live.” (v 26 NIV)

You are sovereign, Father.  You have known me long before I was even born.  You knew just when in human history that You desired for me to exist.  You knew just who needed to be my parents and where I needed to live as I grew up.  You have guided my path and placed each opportunity before me as I’ve grown in You.  Even now, You know what’s in store for me in the next season of my life, and in Your time, You’ll reveal either my options You’ll allow me to choose from or You’ll point out just where You’d like me to go.

“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.  ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’” (v 27-28 NIV)

Thank You for being accessible!  Thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son that made it possible for me to be personally with You, Father.  Here I am in Your hands, as You mold me into the likeness of Jesus.  Amen.

Acts 16

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“Paul and his companions … having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Word in the province of Asia … they tried to enter … but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” (v 6-7 NIV)

Not only do You lead me, Lord, in the way You desire me to go, but You also close doors to keep me from going where You don’t want me to go, where You know it’s not the BEST for me.  Help me to recognize the doors You shut as a part of Your sovereignty over all things.  You’ve promised me, “we know that in ALL THINGS [You] work for the good of those who love [You] who have been called according to [Your] purpose” (Rom 8:28 NIV).  Strengthen my faith as I desire to trust in Your faithfulness.

“During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’  After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (v 9-10 NIV)

Cause the eyes of my spirit to be able to see the “Macedonia” You have in store for me, Father, whether that is a region, city, neighborhood, household, or person.  Make me just as mobile as Paul and his companions when that clear message from You comes through.  Cause there to be no doubt in me that it’s Your voice and Your directions.  Once I hear, help me to obey, as You keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Acts 15

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.'” (v 1 NIV)

You had “opened the door of faith to the Gentiles,” (14:27), Lord, and then along came some guys who felt it was their responsibility to set these new disciples straight.  In doing so, they were “putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear” (as in, the Jews being able to bear; 15:10 NIV).  They were trying to bind these young Christians to what You’d come to free us from.

Wow!  This sure sounds rather parallel to what occurs among many of Your children today!  You save us by Your grace, but some don’t get it.  Some still believe there’s a “catch,” that You still require us to adhere to and strive to strictly obey a long list of rules and regulations.  Like the Pharisees who dogmatically believed the “Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses,” (15:5 NIV), some can tout the old covenant or time-honored church traditions as requirements for salvation and acceptance in Your eyes.

“…God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear … the message of the gospel and believe.  God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us.  He made no distinction between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith … We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are … we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.  Instead, we should write to them, telling them [a few practices to follow that will help them mature in the faith, stand strong in the face of temptation, and promote peace in the body].” (15:7-9, 11, 19-20 NIV)

Thank You, Father, that You extend Your grace to me (a Gentile).  Thank You that You made a choice to save this world, including me, through the sacrifice of Your Son.  You sum up all those old laws into just two: 1) Love God with all that I am, and 2) Love others (Matt 22).  Through Your strength, wisdom, and grace is the only way that I could ever do any of these things.  Keep on fashioning in me the heart of Jesus as You bring forth His reflection in me.  Amen.

Acts 14

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“…They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.  But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.  The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.  They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples.  Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.  ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said …

“From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.  On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (v 19-22, 26-27 NIV)

A chapter earlier, Your call for these two men to be set aside is recorded: “… the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'” (Acts 13:2 NIV).  They traveled to various cities in that region on the northeast shore of the Mediterranean Sea.  As they went, they encountered success AND opposition.  Some opposition was even to the point of stoning to near death.  Yet, they kept going.

Later in Paul’s ministry, You have him pen something to the Corinthians that could’ve been referring back to this kind of treatment: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed … For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body.” (2 Cor 4:8-11 NIV).

These early disciples were hurt by the people with whom You’d sent them to share Your gospel.  But that didn’t stop them.  They “got up and went back into the city” (Ac 14:20).  For they knew, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (v 22).  So, they pressed onward in the task You’d given them: “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (v 22).

Father, no matter what kind of opposition or struggles I face in the process of sharing Your Word and “strengthening the disciples” I meet, You have promised to carry me. Though my circumstances may not include “stoning” as in Paul’s time, some of the stuff the enemy sends my way or gangs up on me with can often seem like the same.  Thank You, though, that I have You with me at ALL times, guiding, protecting and encouraging …as You keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Acts 13

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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“The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; He made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power He led them out of that country, He endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, He overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to His people as their inheritance.  All this took about 450 years.” (v 17-19 NIV)

WHAT a plan You have, Father!  To we who are limited by time and space, it seems to have unfolded over MUCH longer than it could’ve to You.  Yet, while You desire so much good stuff for us, You are patient with us beyond belief.  You “endure [my] conduct” like You did the Israelites, because, like them, YOU’VE chosen ME to be Your child, Your instrument here in this world.  You go before me to overthrow the enemy and You hand me each victory as part of my inheritance.

“After removing Saul, He made David their king.  He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a MAN AFTER MY OWN HEART; he will do everything I want him to do.'” (v 22 NIV)

Father, adhere running shoes to my heart that I might run after YOUR heart.  Keep me seeking Your face, seeking to know You.  Thanks You for Your promise that says I get to find You in the midst of my seeking.  Shape my heart into one that does everything YOU want me to do.

“The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath … What God promised our fathers He has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus…” (v 27, 32-33 NIV)

Thank You for Jesus.  Thank You for saving me by His sacrifice.  Thank You for loving me, even when I was Your enemy because of my sin.  Thank You for Your mercy that You extend to me each day.  You replenish Your mercy account every morning, since You know that my humanity will surely access a withdrawal at some point.  Thank You for never giving up on me.  Thank You for fulfilling all that You have promised … and THEN some!  Keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Acts 12

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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This account of Peter’s escape from prison has brought forth a view of this passage from a different angle, Lord, one I’d not thought of before.  Stepping back from the details of the story, I can see how all that happened to Peter literally and physically is related to what happens in a spiritual sense to us who follow You.


“When [Herod] saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also … after arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded…” (v 3-4 NIV)

You had been using Peter mightily: speaking through him, impacting hearts and lives through him, transforming his own attitudes and understanding.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, “boom!”  Peter is arrested, taken captive by an enemy who came upon him, one who had NOTHING of God in his plans or motives.

When I’ve been in those times of being used by You, making strides by Your side in advancing Your kingdom, I too have been seized.  The enemy has come to get me, chain me up with chains of old baggage and new doubts.  I “sit in a cell,” surrounded by his servants, as he looks for the time to lower his pulverizing blow.


“So Peter was kept in prison, but the Church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (v 5 NIV)

Yet, when Your servant was bound by the enemy, You set Your Church to work through praying and interceding for him.  You do the same for me when I am bound.  You either do the calling Yourself or You guide me to the ones whom You want to hear of my condition and to pray.


“Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared … He struck Peter on the side and woke him up.  ‘Quick, get up!’ he said,…” (v 6-7 NIV)

In the midst of my imprisonment and captivity, YOU make known Your presence.  You take action on behalf of one such as me, who has given her heart to You.  Your presence assures me that Your eye is attentive to my EVERY care and concern.


“…And the chains fell off Peter’s wrists …Peter followed him out of the prison… They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city.  It opened for them by itself, and they went through it…” (v 7-10 NIV)

When my very being is held captive by my thoughts, my feelings, my past, my fears …when the enemy holds me in his chains of deceit, only Your Truth can set me free.  Only You can sever that which binds me in that “prison.”  ONLY YOU can walk me right past the enemy’s snares and into the wide open places of freedom in You.


“Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the LORD sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.” (v 11 NIV)

Sometimes the “going through it” can be as overwhelming as “being in it.”  Then, the realization of what You’ve just done comes into full view after You’ve done it in my life.  This is the part when You get to sit back with a grin on Your face, Lord, and watch me, Your child, recognize Your work in my life.  You get to see the transformation in me from bound to freed, and how I react when the full truth of what You’ve done hits me.


“When this had dawned on him, he went to…where many people had gathered and were praying…Peter …described how the Lord had brought him out of prison…and then he left for another place.” (v 12-17)

Your freedom sparks a joy that can’t be contained.  In those times when I’ve seen You free me from this chain or that shackle, there is a part of my heart that runs to tell of Your work in me.

Father, thank You for the chains You’ve made to drop away.  Thank You for the prison gates You’ve flung open before me and led me through.  Thank You for the freedom You bring to me.

Still, You know that the enemy lurks about to pounce on me any given day.  You know right where, even now, there are chains attempting to be put on and latched.  Lord Jesus, only YOU can free me indeed.  I am forever at Your mercy, so long as I walk this human path.  Once more, I entrust myself to You and believe You to be my Defender, my Shield, my Deliverer.

With each step I take in Your truth, Your light, Your freedom, Father, keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Acts 11

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“…the Holy Spirit came on them as He had come on us at the beginning … if God gave them the same gift as He gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God? … God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” (v 15-18 NIV)

Long ago, Lord, You gave a promise to Abraham that all people would be blessed through him (Gen 12:3), that You’d impact all the nations of the earth through him (Gen 18:18).  Here in this passage is yet another reflection by Your early followers on the beginnings of Your fulfillment of that promise You made centuries before.  Here, before You THIS day, in the present, sits evidence of Your continuing fulfillment of that promise: as I, one who would’ve been called a “Gentile” in the time of Peter, have been blessed with the gift of salvation and the intimate knowledge of Your precious Son, Jesus.  THANK YOU, Father, for Your faithfulness!  Thank You for Your mercy and grace!  Keep on shaping me to be just like Jesus.  Amen.