• Acts 1:1-11 & Luke 24:49-53 Desire for God (Hoffacker)

    Set free from cheapened forms of desire, from violence and sentimentality, we can desire the One who is the most desirable. These desires of ours will become worthy of the God who pierces the hearts of his saints with desire for himself--because his heart is pierced with desire for us.

  • Acts 1:1-11 Scripting the Transformation (Butler)

    "I came to empower YOU," Jesus told them . . . and then up into the sky he went. They watched in amazement. Their necks were bent and sore, their hands shielding their eyes from the glare of the sun. "What is going on NOW?" they must have thought.

  • Acts 1:1-14 God Down on His Knees to Us (Hoffacker)

    We wait, the first disciples wait, all people wait in a variety of ways. Could it be also that God waits? God waits during countless billions of years to establish, on this tiny pinprick of a planet, the environment capable of sustaining life, ourselves included.

  • Acts 1:6-14 A Second Easter (Hoffacker)

    The disciples' behavior is utterly different from what it was before. With Jesus in the tomb, they were scattered, demoralized, unable to pray. Now three things characterize them. (1) They stay together. (2) They pray. (3) They wait.

  • Acts 1:6-14 Witness Begins at Home! (Donovan)

    Jesus pictured concentric circles. First, the disciples were to be witnesses to Jerusalem. Then the adjoining region. Finally, the ends of the earth. That remains the model for Christians. Our witness needs to start with our own families. Our witness needs to start with little things.

  • Acts 1:15-26 Witnesses to the Resurrection (Hyde)

    Jesus' disciples were quick to blame Judas. Maybe that took some pressure off themselves for their own feelings of betrayal. After all, the easiest way not to deal with one’s own problems is to project them onto others.

  • Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 Crisis and Response (Hoffacker)

    Both Matthias and Justus step forward at this moment, urged on by those around them. They are not mentioned previously in the New Testament and are not mentioned again. They simply come forth at the right time. Thank God for their willingness!

  • Acts 1:6-14 Surviving the Moment (London)

    “I’ve lost control of my life!” That’s often what good people say when bad things happen. I’ve said it myself, but it’s not true. Human beings do not lose control of their lives. What we lose is the illusion that we were ever in control of our lives in the first place.

  • Acts 2:1-4 Danger: High Voltage (McLarty)

    Luke wants us to see that the same Spirit that empowered Jesus was given to the disciples on the day of Pentecost that they might continue Jesus' mission of reconciling the world to God. "But you will receive power," Jesus said, "when the Holy Spirit has come upon you."

  • Acts 2:1-11 Finding Our Own Voices (Hoffacker)

    The Galileans speak out in unfamiliar ways. Without computer software, they suddenly become masters of strange speech. Yet what happens on this first Christian Pentecost has to do not only with language, but also with content.

  • Acts 2:1-11 As Simple as Breathing (Hoffacker)

    Often we give our attention only to what is wrong. We miss ways in which God is breathing divine breath into the ordinary mud of ourselves and each other. We miss ways in which God is practicing the divine art of resurrection.

  • Acts 2:1-21 The Gift of Fire (Leininger)

    The fire was exactly as advertised. It proved to be a COMFORTER, an ENCOURAGER, an EXHORTER or CHALLENGER. Look what happened to Peter.

  • Acts 2:1-21 Receive the Holy Spirit (Sellery)

    Sadly, like the apostles, we are slow learners and fast forgetters. That’s why the Holy Spirit comes to us as it did to them, not as a visitor, but as the abiding presence of God. You can ignore him, but not if you value salvation.

  • Acts 2:1-21 When the Fire Grows Cold (McLarty)

    One day a welder was busy at work. Dad asked, "What are you making?" The welder looked up and said, "Three twenty-five an hour." But God didn't put us on earth to make money; God put us here to make a difference.

  • Acts 2:1-21 Time to Deliver (Hyde)

    Jesus said, “Stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” Waiting can drive you crazy! But guess what… they did it. They did what Jesus told them to do.

  • Acts 2:1-21 Breathe on Me, Breath of God (Brettell)

    CONFIRMATION: In your letters to me, each of you In your own way impressed me with the depth of your personal theology. I was blown away when I read, “I will be connected to God in a completely new way.”

  • Acts 2:1-21 This Sacred Discontinuity (Hoffacker)

    Have you noticed? The future becomes the present on its way to becoming the past. As this happens, we must come to terms with problems and challenges and tragedies. We must open ourselves to obvious moments of grace.

  • Acts 2:14a, 22-32 Practicing Resurrection: Testimony (Butler)

    Shouldn’t everything stop at least for a little while? Shouldn’t the world stop turning or something? It should, I thought. But it didn’t. It didn’t when Stu died--and it certainly didn’t when Jesus died.

  • Acts 2:14a, 36-41 Practicing Resurrection: Hospitality (Butler)

    True hospitality is not about impressing our friends. It is studiously welcoming someone who is a stranger to you, and allowing yourself to be changed in the process.

  • Acts 2:37-47 They Devoted Themselves (Donovan)

    Jesus' disciples made a splash at Pentecost that sent out ripples that have grown ever larger through the centuries, until those few disciples have become hundreds of millions.

  • Acts 2:42-47 Glad and Generous Hearts (Anders)

    We have decided we can follow Jesus without a cross, without sacrifice. We want a low demand faith--that requires little of us. But even popular wisdom says, "That which costs you nothing is worth nothing."

  • Acts 2:42-47 Practicing Resurrection: Justice (Butler)

    As our view of Easter fades in our rearview mirrors, we’re facing a radical concept: Living like Easter matters . . . eschewing the idea that Easter comes once a year and involves primarily a whole lot of chocolate.

  • Acts 4:5-12 Is Jesus the Only Way? (Anders)

    Barbara Brown Taylor once said, "We believe Jesus is the only way, and that his way teaches us to live in peace with other ways…. Ask me about God's opinion of other ways, and I will refer you to God."

  • Acts 4:8-13 No Other Name (Kegel)

    "Knowing we are going to heaven when we die is better than uncertainly and the fear or judgment. But we have to expect very little from Christian life down on earth. We settle for being sort of second class Christians." (Bob George)

  • Acts 4:23-35 Scripts of the Empire (Butler)

    This Easter season, in the shadow of an empty tomb, we must come to the realization that, if we take the resurrection of Christ seriously, well, then, we are a people at odds with the messages of our culture, of our empire. We are a people in exile.

  • Acts 4:32-35 One Heart and Soul (Anders)

    General Colin Powell once said "Young people need to learn the paradox of giving - that when we help others, we get back far more than we contribute." Teens who help others get to know the satisfaction that comes from making a difference in someone else's life.

  • Acts 5:27-32 The Best News Ever (Leininger)

    A little girl went to church for the first time. As she was leaving with her parents, the minister asked how she had liked church. "I liked the music," she replied, "but the commercial was too long."

  • Acts 5:27-32 Obeying God (Anders)

    Gamaliel recognized that Jesus was not a common thief, and that one of two things would happen. The chicken coop would be reduced to ashes, or the fire would spread, refusing to burn itself out. It was beyond the power of the high priest to determine the outcome.

  • Acts 7:55-60 Practicing Resurrection: Healing (Butler)

    We want to create a community in which we practice the resurrection quality of healing. Why? Because we all—every single one of us—desperately needs the healing of God in our own lives

  • Acts 7:55-60 The Promise and the Price (McLarty)

    I once heard a preacher say, "The quickest way to meet the Devil is to take a stand for God." It's true: As long as you're willing to go along with the status quo and blend in with the majority, the Devil will leave you alone. You're no threat to him.

  • Acts 9:1-20 Amazing Grace (Donovan)

    Why would God pick the worst man to do the best job? God could have chosen anyone, but he chose Saul. God works in mysterious ways, and his choice of Saul was very mysterious. A favorite hymn is “Amazing Grace.” That is what was at work here—Amazing Grace.

  • Acts 9:1-20 Look Wayyy Out! (Donovan)

    Paul started poorly and ended poorly. He started by persecuting Christians. He and was present at the assassination of Stephen. At the end of his story, we find him in jail. Life wasn't a bed of roses for Paul.

  • Acts 9:1-20 Congregational Vitality (Hoffacker)

    You are driving your car, minding your own business, when all of a sudden you see in your rear view mirror the flashing lights of a police car. A glance at the speedometer shows that you've been doing fifteen miles over the limit. Paul is traveling down the road as well, minding his own business.

  • Acts 9:1-20 The Reluctant Witness (Hyde)

    You finally come to the conclusion that God is speaking to you and wants your attention. Have you ever had an experience like that? Have you? If so, let me tell you how you can tell that your life is about to change. God will call your name twice.

  • Acts 9:1-20 Paul on His Way to Damascus (Sylvester)

    Last week I heard about a man who was baptized when he was 63 years old. He’d already attended church for many years, so people were curious about why he’d waited so long. He said, “It took me this long to know.” Some people seem to know all in a moment.

  • Acts 9:1-22 I Am Jesus (Kegel)

    C.S. Lewis tells of his conversion that he was riding in the sidecar of a motorcycle on the way to the London Zoo with his brother. When he left home he was an unbeliever and somehow en route, he was, in his words, "Surprised by joy," and came to believe.

  • Acts 9:1-22 Conversion of St. Paul (Gentil)

    Is this glass of water half empty or half full? Psychologists say that if you think the glass is half empty you are by nature a pessimistic person, whereas if you think the glass is half full you are more inclined to take an optimistic view of life.

  • Acts 9:36-43 Why the Church Is Like the Energizer Bunny (Wagner)

    A few years ago an ad promoted long-life batteries. The ad included a pink rabbit who played a drum. He would march across the screen beating his drum. Meanwhile a voice said, "Energizer, it just keeps going and going and going." For me, the Church is like the Energizer Bunny.

  • Acts 9:36-43 Your Life in Sixty Seconds (Anders)

    Stephen Covey suggests a simple exercise - imagine you are attending your own funeral. What would people say about you? Covey suggests that such an exercise can change your life. In fact, it did change one man's life--Alfred Nobel.

  • Acts 10:34-43 Breakthrough (Anders)

    Cornelius immediately knew what his vision meant and promptly obeyed. But Peter, even though the vision was repeated three times for emphasis, only slowly came to understand what God was saying to him.

  • Acts 10:44-48 Feast of Friendship (London)

    The measures of worth we placed upon others as children still color our world even to this day. The labeling process began in elementary school. Ultimately, all labels boil down to just two categories: insiders and outsiders, us and them. For the earliest disciples of Christ, the issue was Jews versus Gentiles.

  • Acts 10:45 Change and the Church (Gerhardy)

    Peter could have easily said to God when he received the message to go to the home of Cornelius, "God, don’t ask me. I can’t do that. It goes against everything I have been taught and believe. Let someone else go." Like Peter we too are challenged to express the newness that God has created in us.

  • Acts 11:1-18 Explaining One’s Self (Hyde)

    People have always had a tendency to think that God is on their side. And if God is on your side, those who are not like you are not looked upon by God with the same favor as you. To learn, then, that there is to be no distinction between people when it comes to salvation and table fellowship is a hard lesson to learn.

  • Acts 11:1-18 Law and Gospel (Brettell)

    I suspect that most of you here today are law abiding citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and of the United States of America; in fact I’m sure that I could rightfully assume that ALL of you are law abiding citizens of Pennsylvania and the United States. OR ARE YOU?!

  • Acts 16:9-10 Come… and Help Us (Anders)

    Roxburgh believes that the only way for a church to really grow is by emptying itself. Going out instead of coming in. When we go out into our neighborhoods, the church will become vital to the people in the neighborhoods, and then people will come and will participate. But the key is to challenge our members to get out.

  • Acts 16:9-15 If You Have Judged Me to Be Faithful (Hyde)

    It's amazing what listening will do for you. It often positions you to be in the place and time in which God is speaking. And sometimes you find God speaking in very specific terms. That is what we discover in this portion of Luke's story.

  • Acts 16:16-32 Open Doors (Anders)

    This girl is a lucrative small-business enterprise for the men who own her. Like so many young girls, she is used by others, but her strange public announcements about Paul and his little band of missionaries, we suspect, do not bring much income to her owners. "These men," she cries out, "are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation."

  • Acts 16:16-34 A Faith that Liberates (Wagner)

    Feelings of being trapped can be overcome when we are passionate about what we believe. Physical confinement doesn't prevent us from using our minds. Also, we can escape the walls that surround us by focusing on the needs of others. We can also be assured that God is aware of our bondage and is just waiting to set us free.

  • Acts 16:1-15 To Be Led by the Spirit (McLarty)

    Personally, I’m a little uncomfortable when someone says, “This is what the Lord told me to do.” I’m like Dr. Fred Edgar who, exercising great tact, would say, “I appreciate your offer, and when the Lord confirms this with me, I’ll let you know.”

  • Acts 17:16-32 Taking It to the Streets (McLarty)

    On the surface, Paul's experience in Athens stands out as one of his less successful preaching efforts. For example, you won't find a Letter to the Athenians in the New Testament. That suggests he wasn't able to start a congregation there. From all appearances, he stayed in Athens a short time and never came back. So it goes.

  • Acts 17:16-18 Windows of Opportunity (Gerhardy)

    It’s worth noting how Paul intentionally stepped out of his comfort zone to share the Good News with those who were caught up in pagan ways. Notice I said they were intentional – they deliberately made a decision to make the most of the moment. To hesitate, to stall, to put it off, would mean a lost opportunity.

  • Acts 17:22-31 I See How Extremely Religious You Are (Molin)

    Here is another idol I have seen you worship: Your achievements, your accomplishments. You seem to think that titles puff you up; like “doctor” or “teacher” or “president” or “pastor.” You seem to think that once you have achieved a status in life, you are better than the others, and so what you are really worshiping is yourself. Am I wrong?

  • Acts 17:22-31 To an Unknown God (Anders)

    G. Campbell Morgan sums up Paul's message this way, "If you really want to find God, do not degrade yourselves in erecting images of gold and silver. Listen to the deepest fact of your own being; be silent in the presence of the mystery of what you are; and then look out beyond to that unknown God whom I declare to you."

  • Acts 17:22-31 Practicing Resurrection: Worship (Butler)

    What might it mean to live our lives like Easter is more than one day of the year . . . to be transformed by the miracle of resurrection every single day. Helping us explore the possibilities is Diana Butler Bass’s book Christianity for the Rest of Us, in which she identifies several “signposts of renewal”

  • Acts 17.22-31 Critical Differences (McLarty)

    In Athens Paul makes his appeal, not to a Jewish audience, but to the most learned, well-educated, sophisticated scholars of the day. Their response is telling: They're cordial. But here's the catch: They have no interest in committing themselves to any higher authority than the gospel of enlightenment.

  • Acts 19:1-7 Experiential Religion (Anders)

    In our text, there is the assumption of Paul that believers should receive the Holy Spirit "when they became believers." This verse indicates that Paul expected a person to know they had the Holy Spirit upon their conversion to Christ.

  • Acts 19.1-7 The Baptism of the Spirit (McLarty)

    The Prompter is the person who stands in a little recessed compartment at the front of the stage. He prompts actors if they forget a line. All they have to do is glance down at the prompter, and he'll give them the help they need to play their part. The Spirit is our Prompter.

  • Acts 19:1-41 Comfort the Afflicted, Afflict the Comfortable (McLarty)

    Surely, Paul was a caring priest who knew how to comfort the afflicted. But he was also a fiery prophet, who didn't hesitate afflicting the comfortable and challenging the status quo. And that's what he did in Ephesus. He went for the jugular and attacked the dominant force holding sway over the Ephesians.

  • Acts 26:9-21 Congregational Vitality (Hoffacker)

    You've been doing fifteen miles over the limit. You didn't notice, but the officer did. The sinking feeling you experience on this occasion is bad enough, but it's nothing compared to what Paul feels on the occasion of his conversion. A better name would be the Most Frightening Experience of His Life.