Read Acts 11:19-30
Key Verse: Acts 11:21 “The power of the Lord was upon them, and large numbers of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.” (NLT)
We are told in chapter 8 verse 1 that after Stephen was stoned a great persecution of the Church began. This seems like it would be enough to make the Christians keep quiet about their faith and cause the growth of the Church to slow down. According to 11:19 the persecution of the Church really served to cause the Gospel message to spread faster and farther than anyone could have imagined. It is interesting to note that Saul, who was instrumental in starting that persecution, was now being used of God to further teach those who only heard about Jesus because of that persecution.
The believers spread the Gospel wherever they went even if they went there because their lives were in danger. Saul and Barnabas traveled to Antioch to teach the Christians there and they in-turn decided to send help to those in need in Judea during the famine. All of these activities are missionary work and these kinds of work are very important.
All of us can be missionaries for Jesus Christ if we do our part to Act Out in the name of Jesus in these ways. Wherever we find ourselves in life we ought to tell others about Christ. We can look for opportunities to teach other believers more about what it means to a Christian and everyone can, in some way, give to meet a need that we are made aware of. Acting Out for Jesus is about letting your faith show up in every part of your life and in every way possible.
Prayer: “Lord, help me to look for every possible opportunity to Act Out for You whether it be with my words or my actions.”
Read Acts 11:1-18
Key Verse: Acts 11:18 “When the others heard this, all their objections were answered and they began praising God. They said, ‘God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of turning from their sins and receiving eternal life.” (NLT)
Once again we see how difficult it was for the Jewish believers to accept the idea that Peter would go into a Gentile’s home for any reason. We know that Peter himself struggled with this as well. It is so hard to do something after we have convinced ourselves that it is not right or that it is not appropriate for whatever reason. The good news is that despite even his own objections Peter obeyed God and as a result the Gospel spread throughout the entire world.
Sometimes we have a difficult time doing things we ought to do for God because we think it is inappropriate. One example would be that many Christians have come to believe today that we don’t have any right to share our faith with other people because we will somehow step on their right to be left alone. We have come to think that sharing our faith is somehow wrong and unacceptable.
We need to hear from God just like Peter did. When God says do something we are to do it despite any objections even our own. We need to realize that God is in control and He wants others to hear about His love. He allowed His Son to die for the sins of the world and He wants us to be sure that the those around us know that it was for them. He feels that the most appropriate thing that anyone can do is to share the message of ultimate love with those around us.
Prayer: “Lord, I thank you for allowing your Son to die for everyone’s sins. Help me to share that good news with others.”
Read Acts 10:24-48
Key Verse: Acts 10:45 “The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles, too.” (NLT)
For the last two thousand years Christians have debated whether or not the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was meant for all believers or was it just meant for the early Church. In our key verse for today we see that the Jewish believers had a similar concern. They had difficulty believing that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was meant for all believers and not just the Jewish ones. In fact, they even thought that Christianity was strictly meant for the Jews and that no one else would ever be accepted by God.
It seems very obvious in this passage that the Jewish believers had to change their minds about whether or not all people could be saved. Now that God had proved that He accepted them by giving them the Holy Spirit how could the Jewish believers disagree.
If God used His Holy Spirit as proof that He accepts all people as believers of Jesus Christ we can know with great confidence that God also intends the Holy Spirit to be available to all believers. The baptism was not simply meant to jump start the church’s growth as some believe. It is meant for you. God wants to fill all believers with the Holy Spirit so we can all know that we have been accepted by God and so that we can Act Out for Him with the same kind of power, boldness, and faith that the early Church had.
When someone offers you a gift don’t you usually accept it? Why should gifts from God be any different?
Prayer: “Lord, thank-you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Please help me to be a witness of the great things you have done in me.”
Read Acts 10:1-23
Key Verse: Acts 10:15 “The voice spoke again, ‘If God says something is acceptable, don’t say it isn’t.” (NLT)
Peter begins to experience a major shift in thinking in this passage. Peter was a Jew. As far as Jews were concerned they were God’s chosen people and they had become convinced that they were the only people that God would have dealings with. God gives Peter this vision as a sign to him that God was ready to reach out to the whole world with the message of the cross.
When given this vision Peter protests the idea of eating anything impure because he did not want to defile himself. God responded to him by telling him that if God says something is acceptable, then it is.
God had two meanings to this, first of all he was telling Peter that it was now ok for him to eat foods he normally would not have eaten. More importantly, God was beginning to reveal to Peter that Jesus’ death on the cross was for the forgiveness of the sins of all people, not just the Jews.
Sometimes God asks us to speak to people who we really don’t think are the “right type” of people to get saved. We think they are not going to accept God so we decide that it is not acceptable to reach out to them. We need to remember that Jesus died for the sins of all people not just for ours. When God prompts us to witness to individuals who we would not have chosen we need to trust that God knows what He is doing and Act Out in faith. Sometimes it may seem hard to do but the rewards are amazing.
Prayer: “Lord, help me to have the faith to Act Out and witness to whoever you ask me to witness to, no matter who they are.”
Read Acts 9:20-43
Key Verse: Acts 9:20 “And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God?” (NLT)
Things certainly turned around for Saul very quickly. He became a Christian and immediately started to teach others about Jesus. He went from trying to destroy the church to winning souls for Jesus Christ. He also went from being one who tracked down Christians to try and kill them to one who was now himself being hunted.
Being a Christian made Saul a lot of enemies. The Jewish teachers in Damascus wanted to kill him (v. 23) and the Greek- speaking Jews in Jerusalem wanted to kill him (v. 29). On both of these occasions other believers had to protect Saul by sneaking him out of the towns. Not only did Saul make enemies with unbelievers but even some Christians did not trust him, after all he did try to kill them.
Barnabas stood up and defended Saul to the other believers. He told them of Saul’s great preaching and how much he had changed since finding Jesus. Barnabas was able to convince the church to accept Saul as one of their own.
We can learn a lot from these two men. Saul Acted Out for Jesus even though he was once the Church’s greatest enemy. He preached the Good News after only just getting saved himself. Barnabas Acted Out and defended Saul even though it could have made him very unpopular with the other believers.
Prayer: “Lord, help me to have the courage to Act Out for you without being afraid of what anyone else may say or do.”
Read Acts 9:1-19
Key Verse: Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said, ‘Go and do what I say’…” (NLT)
The conversion of Saul (who was later renamed Paul) is one of the major turning points in the Church’s history. Saul went from uttering murderous threats (v.1) to being chosen as one who would suffer many things for the sake of the Gospel (v. 16). Saul was not the only one who was dramatically changed in this passage. We are also introduced to a Christian named Ananias who needed to be changed. When God first spoke to Ananias, Ananias reacted positively, “Yes Lord”, but as soon as he found out what God wanted him to do and who God wanted him to witness to his reaction changed to “But Lord”. Ananias began to try and make excuses as to why he should not have to do what God wanted.
Sometimes we are enthusiastic about doing things for God that is, right up until we find out what it is exactly that God wants us to do. It is at that point that we start to make excuses and try and get ourselves out of having to do anything at all. God responded to Ananias very forcefully and demanded that he do as God said. It would have been so much better if Ananias had trusted God from the beginning and did as God asked.
It is important for us to learn to trust God completely and to not hesitate when God asks us to do something for Him. God is in control and He knows what He is doing. That Saul who God asks you to witness to may be the next Paul.
Prayer: “Lord, sometimes it is easy to want to say “Yes Lord” when you speak to me but then my answer turns to “But Lord” as I look for excuses. Help me to trust you completely so I can Act Out for You.”
Read Acts 8:26-40
Key Verse: Acts 8:29-30a “The Holy Spirit said to Phillip, ‘Go over and walk along beside the carriage. Phillip ran over…” (NLT)
We see Phillip first in chapter 6 verse 5 when he is listed among those who are described as full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. In this passage we can really see Philip living up to those qualities. God spoke to him and told him to go over and walk near the carriage, Philip obeyed, God gave him a great opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ, and Philip took the chance.
He showed that he was full of the Holy Spirit because he heard God when God spoke to him. He proved that he was a man of great wisdom when he not only chose to obey God but also when he had the right words to speak to the man.
Verse 31 tells us that the man begged Philip to talk to him about the Bible. The reality is that we find it hard to witness most of the time because we try and do on our own, with our own strength and on our own timing. If we learn to listen and obey God, He will direct us to people who need to hear the message of the Gospel and are ready to receive it. It is so much easier to share the Good News when we trust God to provide the opportunities and then obey Him.
Your responsibility is to ask God for opportunities and then prove yourself to be a person full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom as you listen to God and obey Him.
Prayer: “Lord, please give me opportunities to share your good news with others. Help me to listen to and obey you when you speak.”