Day 9: January 9, 2014

Today's Reading(s)

Acts 17:10-15
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea. On arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that God’s message had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds. 14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul away to go to the sea, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.



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Eagerly Examining the Scriptures
by Lauren O'Neill, Senior Adult and Congregational Care Assistant, Brentwood Campus

As a result of sharing the message of Christ with the people in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas are heavily resisted and scorned by the Jews living there. The Jews wouldn’t accept the truth that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah they’d been waiting for, that He’d suffered, died, and risen again.

They were also jealous that this new message of salvation was being offered to the Gentiles. Their jealousy and distrustful scorn became hostile, forcing Paul and Silas to make an overnight escape to another town called Berea.

Once they had safely arrived in that new location, they began to share the message of Christ with the people living there—which resulted in many believing and accepting the truth of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.

In verse 11, it says the Jews living in Berea were more noble-minded than those living in Thessalonica (New American Standard Bible). They received the message of Christ “with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (NAS).

There are two important things mentioned in that verse, which describe how the Jews were engaging the Scriptures that Paul and Silas were sharing with them.

First, it says they were receiving the message with great eagerness. To be eager means to be impatiently expectant about something. In other words, while these people were listening to Paul and Silas explain the truths of Christ, they were expectantly waiting for the truth of Christ to be revealed to them.

Second, this verse says the Jews were examining the Scriptures daily to make sure that what Paul and Silas were saying matched what was in Scripture. Both of these things are important—both the eagerness and examination.

The combination of these two things, when applied to studying Scripture, gives evidence of a noble mind. When we eagerly examine God’s Word and desire to know His truth, He will reveal it to us, for the purpose that all might be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

As Christians, many of us have probably experienced this eagerness to learn what Scripture says. We want to know the truths of God and live by His rules—in theory. But more than likely, many fewer of us have actually been willing to put that desire into practice on a consistent basis.

Only by focusing our time and energy on developing these practices will we gain the noble-mindedness that was present in the Jews of Berea. Taking the time to examine Scripture requires us to think. To process not only what Scripture is saying, but also what Scripture is meaning.

This kind of studying takes time. It takes work, and sometimes demands a shift in our priorities or focus. But it is a discipline worth developing—for God’s glory, and also for our own good.

Throughout Scripture, we can find hundreds of written descriptions of God’s magnitude and worth. The wisdom and knowledge of God is described as a depth of riches, in Romans 11:33. His ways are so pure that they are worth more than gold (Psalm 19:10). His love is described as being boundless—its height and width cannot be measured (Ephesians 3:18).

Yet we often seem to read and receive Scripture in the same way that we might passively look upon the surface of an ocean rather than diving into its depths. We must submerge ourselves in the entire truth of Scripture, and allow it to transform us.

God’s desire for us is that we’d choose to explore and examine the depths of His goodness, and that we’d anticipate the riches we’ll inevitably find within. Being willing to surrender to this divine invitation is a sign of noble character—even if it takes time, work, or our whole attention. And by allowing our minds to be illuminated by the truths we discover in Scripture, God will develop in us an eagerness to know Him even more. 

Praxis

  1. When we dive into the depths of Scripture, it requires that we submerge ourselves inside of it. This often requires us to put ourselves inside the stories or verses we are reading. Is there a particular story or character in the Bible that you seem to connect with more than some of the others? If you haven’t read that story in a while—or if you haven’t ever studied that character—I would encourage you to set 30 minutes aside one day this week and dig into that Bible text again. Put yourself inside the story, and allow God to meet you there inside His Word.
  2. If you are in the habit of reading Scripture daily and it’s going well… try pushing yourself a bit more this week! For example—if you’ve been reading one chapter a day, try reading two! If you haven’t been reading Scripture daily and need a place to start, schedule 5-10 minutes a day this next week and begin. Building up these habits by consistently trying to dive deeper into God’s Word, will begin to create noble-mindedness in you. It will glorify God, and it will be great for you too!

About JourneyOn Today

Today's devotional series accompanies the Spiritual Practices Foundations Curriculum which deals with 24 different spiritual disciplines. We will break for an Advent series in December and continue the second half of Spiritual Practices during the first quarter of 2015.