The Mission Begins (Acts 13:1-12)

As we come to this section in the Book of Acts, it is important to remind ourselves what the book is about – it is about the activities of the ascended Saviour on earth. Earlier in this book, Jesus had summarised the spread of the church as beginning in Jerusalem, then going to Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Jerusalem was stage 1, Judea was stage 2, Samaria was stage 3, and we are living in stage 4. The development of each stage was under the control of Jesus, and now we see in this chapter how Jesus begins stage 4.
The church that sends The previous stages had developed out of the church in Jerusalem and progressed under the guidance and leadership of apostles who had been with Jesus. This is not the case with stage 4. Instead of the church in Jerusalem, it is the church in Antioch; and instead of the original disciples of Jesus we see that those involved are not mentioned in the Gospels as being with Jesus. Luke mentions some details about the church i…

How to Close a Letter (Philippians 4:20-23)

Paul brings his letter to a conclusion with a doxology and a benediction separated by mutual greetings. Often the purposes of doxologies and benedictions are misunderstood, with some assuming that they have the same function in a church service. A doxology is basically an expression of what we desire for God (it is a statement of praise) whereas a benediction contains what we desire from God (obviously based on what he has promised to give). No doubt Paul included his doxology and his benediction on purpose, aware that they would be read at an important stage in the church service in Philippi during which his letter was read. The doxology would lead the congregation in an expression of praise to their heavenly Father and the benediction would remind them of whom to go to for supplies of grace – the Lord Jesus.
The doxology (v. 20) Earlier in this letter, in his famous description of the humiliation and exaltation of Christ (2:6-11), Paul had stated that the ultimate purpose of the univer…

The Kingdom of Jesus (Psalm 22:22-31)

As we consider the second section of Psalm 22 we can see some differences between it from the first section. The first section describes an event that is past, the death of the Messiah, whereas the second section describes the present and the future, which means that the second section is describing us at times. We can also see that the first section has one speaker whereas the second section has that speaker speaking and the psalmist speaking. The Messiah speaks in verses 22-25 and David speaks in verses 26-31. We can entitle the first section as The Consecration of the Messiah and the second section as The Conquests of the Messiah.
The consecration of the Messiah This section has two subsections. In verses 22-24, the Messiah promises to tell the name of God to his brothers. Since we know that the Messiah is the Son of God, this means that the name he will teach about is the name of the Father. This verse is cited by the author of Hebrews in his second chapter to explain what the Son o…

Jesus and Prayer (Mark 1:35)

People are attracted by Jesus for different reasons. Today, some are attracted by his teachings, although often all they are looking for is some support of their already existing ideas. When he was on earth, many were intrigued by his ability to perform miracles. It is worth asking ourselves what we find curious about Jesus in addition to him being the Saviour. One aspect that we should ponder is his praying methods.
Maybe we can ask some questions to see why thinking about his prayer life is important. Would there have been four gospels if Jesus had not been a man of prayer? Would the Holy Spirit have descended on Jesus at his baptism if he had not been engaged in prayer? When did he commence his prayer practices? Did he have organised prayer in the sense that he followed a pattern, such as the one he taught his disciples in the Lord’s Prayer? Of course, some of those questions cannot be answered by us, but they do indicate how important prayer was to him.
Why should we think about how…

Benefits of Christian Giving (Phil. 4:14-19)

Christian giving is a basic activity of the church. There are several passages in which Paul deals with this topic. For example, in 2 Corinthians he gives instructions concerning a geographically widespread collection that was being taken throughout the churches in Gentile locations for the purpose of giving aid to the hard-pressed believers in Jerusalem. Here in Philippians 4 he responds to the aid that had been sent to him recently by the church in Philippi. How are we to view Christian giving? The basic answer is that we are to view it in the same way as we view all other activities in the Christian life, which is that we are contributing to the progress, population and prospects of the most amazing kingdom on earth. What is to motivate Christian leadership? The progress, population and prospects of the most amazing kingdom on earth. What is the purpose behind Christian service? The progress, population and prospects of the most amazing kingdom on earth.
Three leadership priorities…

Facing the End, or the Beginning (Psalm 16:8-11)

There are at least three kinds of Messianic psalms. Some, such as Psalms 22 and 110, only apply to the Messiah and contain several details about his person and work, sometimes focusing on his sufferings and sometimes on his subsequent glory. Others, such as Psalms 1 and 72, are pictures of the Messiah, but could also apply to someone else in a lower sense. 
A third kind, such as Psalms 16 and 40, are cited in the New Testament as connected to the Messiah, yet they also contain details that could not refer to Jesus. For example, Psalm 16 begins with a confession of unworthiness and Psalm 40 also includes a confession of sin. The way to proceed with such psalms is not to try and somehow make these verses descriptive of what Jesus thought. Instead we should limit our application of verses to Jesus from this type of psalm to the verses that the New Testament writers say are relevant to his person and work.
Peter, in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:25-28), quotes Psalm 16:8-11 and…