Portrait Shaped by Scripture

Scripture Focus: Acts 18.24-28
24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor t and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. 
27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. 

Reflection: Portrait Shaped by Scripture
By John Tillman

Apollos “proved” from the scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. 

This easy-to-miss phrase tells us that Apollos and the Jews had an agreed-upon interpretation of messianic prophecies and an agreed-upon set of facts about the life of Jesus. They compared the two and determined that they matched.

This was all happening just a few years after Jesus’ death. Information and people traveled fairly easily. Facts could be verified because people who experienced these events were still alive, including the people who condemned Jesus to death, those who carried out his sentence, and those who saw him resurrected. (1 Corinthians 15.3-7)

Our faith is a fact-based faith. The single-most important (and audacious) factual claim of Christianity is that Jesus was resurrected. Skeptics of this claim and of Christianity didn’t suddenly appear on the scene during the Age of Reason. Christianity was tested by skeptics immediately following the resurrection during a time in which its followers had no power or influence and it should have been easiest to disprove. 

Apollos was able to point to the portrait drawn by the writings of Isaiah and other biblical authors and then point to the life of Jesus. For many faithful Jews, it was obvious that they were the same picture. 

When we speak about the gospel or engage in discussion with those who don’t share our faith, it may be difficult for us to “prove” anything from the scriptures. Apollos’s audience knew the scriptures inside and out. Modern people don’t know or trust the scriptures. Not only do they not have positive knowledge of the scriptures, many have negative experiences with scripture being weaponized, twisted, and used to accuse, abuse, dehumanize, and attack them.

Before we prove anything from the scriptures, we may first have to show people a portrait of Jesus painted with our words and actions. If we can show the beauty of living in a way that shows the Father’s love, people will be willing to consider trusting our Father’s words.

Lord, help us to remember that some have been wounded by scripture.
Help our lives to be shaped by scripture into a beautiful artistic portrait of you.
May the picture we paint of you show that the scriptures are good so that others can believe the gospel.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for me. — Psalm 66.14

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Reading
Leviticus 22 (Listen 4:41)
Acts 18 (Listen 4:06)

Read more about A Different Kind of Exile
In 1 Peter 2, we see that the scattered exiles from Jerusalem…Their lives—their good deeds—are literally the arguments they are to defend themselves with.

Read more about Default Settings for Scripture
The “default settings” of our mindsets about scripture have a big effect on our ability to make use of them in the ways Paul and Peter intend.

Servants in the Age of Showboats :: Worldwide Prayer

Acts 18.26-27
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.

Reflection: Servants in the Age of Showboats :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

The book of prayers that our Worldwide Prayer series come from was published in 1998. I have read through this book before, but this prayer jumped off the page at me as if it was voiced yesterday.

How deeply damaged is our idea of what a leader is! We cannot seem to cease from grasping at the hems of emperors and kings rather than at the hem of the humble carpenter of Galilee. Whether in politics or in the church, so many of our leaders lead in the opposite way that Jesus described to his disciples, each lording their power over one another.

Truthfully, our emperors have no clothes. They think they are rich, but they are poor, blind, and naked. Our true leader bids us follow him through tears, blows, blood, and shame, carrying our cross. May we set our face toward our Jerusalem and in his power and with his mercy, humble ourselves and follow him into servitude.

Servants in the Age of Showboats
A prayer for servant leadership from the USA
Dear Jesus,

We live in an age where the proud, unethical, immoral showboat leader is honored and glorified. We have seen how this type of leadership has affected our witness to the world. We are praying for leaders whose greatness is evident through their love for you and their service to people. We pray for a revival of servant leadership around the world.

We pray for the relationships of our leaders.

  • That each leader will keep in constant contact with you
  • That they will only seek your approval
  • That they will not waste time judging others
  • That their hearts would be open, listening, and faith-filled

We pray for the actions of our leaders.

  • That they would not avoid difficult decisions to win approval or to be liked
  • That they would be willing to sacrifice and take risks for the building of your kingdom
  • That they would never stray from the mission you have called them to
  • That their “personal experiences” would help them to see their gifts more clearly and rely on you

Lord, give us leaders who will…

  • Know when it is appropriate to shout and cry as long as those tears spill over into appropriate action in your name
  • Be totally passionate and righteously committed to excellence for the glory of God

In the name of Jesus, who taught us how to lead as servants.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
To you I lift up my eyes, to you enthroned in the heavens. — Psalm 123.1

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Judges 14 (Listen – 3:35) 
Acts 18 (Listen – 4:06)

Thank You!
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Read more about Resisting Herods
The Herods epitomize the kind of people that the Jesus community is so often drawn to in hopes of gaining their approval.

Read more about The Context of The Widow’s Mite
This scripture has more to say about unscrupulous religious leaders than about generous poor people. It tells us that judgment is coming on leaders who take advantage of the poor.

Readers’ Choice Submissions

It has been so good to hear from many of you about posts for Readers’ Choice, but we still have some room in August for your input.

Share with our community about the post or posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

For any questions contact John Tillman at john@theparkforum.org