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Early Christians studied hard, focusing on big themes over details

April 10, 2024

Daily Scripture

Acts 15:12-19, 17:10-12

Acts 15
12 The entire assembly fell quiet as they listened to Barnabas and Paul describe all the signs and wonders God did among the Gentiles through their activity. 13 When Barnabas and Paul also fell silent, James responded, “Fellow believers, listen to me. 14 Simon reported how, in his kindness, God came to the Gentiles in the first place, to raise up from them a people of God. 15 The prophets’ words agree with this; as it is written,
16 After this I will return,
        and I will rebuild David’s fallen tent;
        I will rebuild what has been torn down.
            I will restore it
17             so that the rest of humanity will seek the Lord,
                even all the Gentiles who belong to me.
The Lord says this, the one who does these things [Amos 9:11-12]
18     known from earliest times.
19 “Therefore, I conclude that we shouldn’t create problems for Gentiles who turn to God.

Acts 17
10 As soon as it was dark, the brothers and sisters sent Paul and Silas on to Beroea. When they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 The Beroean Jews were more honorable than those in Thessalonica. This was evident in the great eagerness with which they accepted the word and examined the scriptures each day to see whether Paul and Silas’ teaching was true. 12 Many came to believe, including a number of reputable Greek women and many Greek men.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Acts recorded the history of the early church. Today’s passages showed the first church leaders navigating a complex cultural and spiritual challenge. But their willingness to face the issue openly and honestly led to a resolution that honored the Bible’s major principles without bogging the church’s mission down in contested details. * We find two key principles they followed that can help us navigate our challenges today: identifying top priorities and humble diligence.

  • The early church might have split over the issue of circumcision. Jewish and Gentile believers had distinct views about how the church should handle it. How did they tackle the issue? They listened; they thought critically. James named the top priority: “we shouldn’t create problems for Gentiles to turn to God” (Acts 15:19). Clarify the top priority behind your deepest beliefs. How could focusing on the top priority help you work with people you may disagree with on secondary priorities?

  • The Beroean Jews in Acts 17 were humbly diligent. Paul and Silas challenged deeply held beliefs about their faith and identity. How did they react? With “great eagerness” and daily study “to see whether Paul and Silas’ teaching was true” (Acts 17:11). The Beroeans humbly kept an open mind and diligently did their homework. How do you respond when someone (or something) tests a strongly held belief? How could the Beroeans’ example help you face such challenges positively?


Lord Jesus, you are my most deeply held belief. I want to live for and love others as you did, including those whose beliefs are different than mine. Help me to remember that you, and your example, are my top priority today. Amen.

GPS Insights

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Lisa Wilt

Lisa Wilt is a member and greeter at Resurrection's Blue Springs campus. She is an inspirational speaker, podcaster, and author of five books. Lisa’s 1-Minute W.O.W. Words air twice daily on Lisa and her husband have 2 grown children and one grandson, Elijah David. The title that most defines Lisa is CHILD OF GOD. As her family will tell you, Lisa’s singing is dreadful, but her banana bread is delightful. Visit her at

“Stop, drop and roll.” Growing up this what I was taught to do if I caught on fire. Only once did I need to remember this. My hair momentarily caught fire because my brother used newspaper to light the grill. I panicked and whacked at my flaming head. While my hand was fine, my middle school confidence was shaken as I sported wonky bangs for the next semester.

More often than physically being burned, I’ve been burned with angry words spoken during disagreements. Countless times I’ve been the person with a fiery tongue. During arguments on topics that are near to my heart, in my frustration I need help choosing my words. At those times I need to remember my childhood admonition to “stop, drop and roll.” When applied to hot tempers it reminds me to:
· Stop before I speak angry words.
· Drop to my knees and pray. (Even if I can’t physically kneel, I can have a mental posture of humility.)
· Roll words tempered with kindness from my tongue.

I wonder if James fondly remembered how Paul and the other church leaders resolved the disagreement about circumcision when he opened his letter telling us to be:
· quick to listen,
· slow to speak, and
· slow to get angry (James 1:19, NLT).
This is so unlike me. My nature is to listen last and get angry fast. I naturally get mad when I feel unheard or misunderstood which is why I need supernatural help. The Holy Spirit offers me temperance (patience) to cool my temper. I just choose not to exercise patience because my will (and my temper) cloud my thinking. The problem is both in how I act and how I think.

As I read today’s Scripture, it reminded me of a quote that helps my thinking. It hangs on the wall in my dentist’s office in front of the exam chair, offering: “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love.” While the author is anonymous, it seems like Barnabas or Silas from our readings could have penned it. As my dentist works on my teeth, God works on my heart. I ponder how beautiful it would be if I could live this way. What if we, as Christ’s church, could live this way and model it for the world?

It starts with us, yet sometimes it’s more about having our point heard and getting the last word. In the heat of the moment many things seem essential when they are temporal. Personally, I need help discerning what things are truly important and worth fighting for from those things that are less important and better left undebated.

In Acts the early church was dealing with divisive issues that some deemed essential because they had been key to the Jewish faith. Within our church family today we too are dealing with divisive issues. Perhaps within our own families we have conflict. Different generations often have diverse ideas on how children should be raised or how money should be spent. Perhaps within our own marriage there are clashing opinions on how to manage work schedules or divide household responsibilities. We may disagree about how much television or screen time should be allowed for our children. Disagreements with those we hold most dear can be most difficult.

God made each of us unique and each have distinctive viewpoints. And while differences will always exist and are natural, we have the supernatural help of The Holy Spirit, our Counselor and Comforter, not just living with or beside us but living within us. He helps us think and act lovingly to find common, holy ground. For this I am grateful.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Pastor Hamilton wrote of that council, “This is astounding! A council of disciples, upon hearing the testimony of Paul and Barnabas concerning the faith of the Gentiles, set aside much of the Law of Moses as no longer binding upon the church.” (From Hamilton, Adam, Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today (p. 179). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.)