Read Acts 17:1-15
Key Verse: Acts 17:12 “As a result, many Jews believed, as did some of the prominent Greek women and many men.” (NLT)
By this time it seemed that everywhere Paul went to spread the Gospel message people opposed him and tried to stop him for doing God’s work. Time after time the same things happened. Paul would arrive and start teaching people about Jesus. People would get saved and some people would try to stop them from teaching about Jesus there anymore.
The exciting part is that Paul was always a couple steps ahead of the bad element that wanted him stopped. He always seemed to be able to get to a new place and sow the seeds of the Gospel into people lives before he was forced to move on. Another great thing about this was that Paul never seems to get discouraged by the whole process. It must have been frustrating to just barely get a chance to start the work before he had to run off and try again somewhere else. But Paul kept on doing it anyways and according to verse 6 he and Silas turned the whole world upside down.
You may not get to see the fruit of your labor as you try and plant the seeds of the Gospel into people’s lives. But the important thing is to never give up and to keep Acting Out for God no matter how much bad seems to be following you around. You can turn your world upside down for Jesus if you refuse to give up and keep doing whatever work you can for Him. God will use you and only time will tell how much of a change you really made in the world.
Prayer: “Lord, I want to keep on Acting Out for you even in the face of the bad things that try and stop me. Give me the strength to keep on working for you and the courage to face anything that may come my way.”
Read Acts 16:19-40
Key Verse: Acts 16:25 “Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” (NLT)
Paul once again ended up in prison for doing something good. Healing that demon possessed girl was the right thing to do, yet both Silas and Paul were beaten, imprisoned, and bound because of it. We read on to see the wonderful things that God does as a result of their being in prison. The prison shakes, the doors swing open, and the jailer and his whole family turn to Christ. It even served as an opportunity to encourage the believers (v. 40).
All of the wonderful things that happen in this passage can be traced back to the way that Paul and Silas reacted to being in prison. They were just badly beaten, thrown into the inner dungeon, and even tied up. But what do we find them doing in the midst of all of this? According to verse 25, they prayed and worshiped God. What’s more, they did it where everyone in the jail could hear them and they did it despite the fact that they were suffering so greatly for their faith.
How would you have reacted? Would you have prayed in that situation? Most of us find it difficult to say grace at a restaurant because there are people around us. Paul and Silas never let being beaten or even being imprisoned stop them from expressing their love to God. They choose to Act Out for Him even in the worst possible situation and God blessed them in incredible ways. Acting Out for Him means we need to learn to never be embarrassed of our faith in God whether we are in a restaurant or in jail.
Prayer: “Lord, please forgive me for the times that I lived like I was ashamed of you. Help me to never be embarrassed of you. No matter where I end up in life I want to let everyone know that you are the most important part of my life.”
Read Acts 16:1-18
Key Verse: Acts 16:10 “So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, for we could only conclude that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.” (NLT)
Paul and his companions traveled about looking for places to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to people who had never heard before. The Holy Spirit would not allow them to enter Asia at that time nor were they allowed to enter the province of Bithynia. God closed those doors, or opportunities, because He was about to open a different door for Paul and his friends.
God, through a vision, directed them to go to Macedonia. This was the open door they were looking for and as they went into this area God used them in great ways. They meet Lydia and she became a Christian. They even healed a demon possessed girl.
When an opportunity presents itself we often rush towards it and are excited to do whatever it takes. Sometimes God closes doors that we think are good. He has His reasons and He knows what He is doing even when we don’t understand. It is at those times that we need to wait upon Him and trust Him. What we want and what we want to do is not always what is best. God’s will is always best for us. We need to look for opportunities to share the Gospel. But we also need to be willing to let God lead us by showing us, through His Spirit, which doors are open to go through and which ones are shut for now.
Prayer: “Lord help me to accept the fact that your will is much better than mine. I want to trust you and know that you know best.”
Have you ever read a promise in the Bible and wondered if it is possible that it could really apply to you? Have you ever heard the voice of God declare something over your circumstance and yet found yourself doubting? The truth is that all of us will come to this place of uncertainty at times, perhaps even many times.
Consider Abram for a moment. This man was just going about his life in a place called Haran when God suddenly interrupted with an amazing promise. Seemingly out of nowhere God shows up with a plan for Abram to leave his home and his relatives and for him to travel to an unknown area where God would turn this simple man into “the father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:4) What did Abram think about all that? Perhaps a better question might be, “How would you feel about that?” A little scared? Maybe a lot scared? Would you have reservations? Doubts? Concerns? Sure, we all would, if we are honest enough to admit it.
The reality is that God is not shy about making big promises and He may have a big plan in store for you right now. Has He promised to use you in some way? Has He promised to heal your body or create a miracle in your circumstance? Do you have an unsaved loved one or friend that God intends to reach out to? Whatever the promise is that God has made to you, you can be assured that He can and will get it done.
After making His promise to Abram we see God taking the time to encourage Abram in Genesis chapter 17.
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’..” – Genesis 17:1 NLT
Perhaps Abram was struggling with the magnitude of all that God had declared about him. Perhaps he was just having an off-day (we all have those don’t we?). Or maybe God just wanted to offer Abram a little reminder about who He was. Either way it must have been an amazing source of confidence to have God Himself state that He is El-Shaddai — “God Almighty”. I imagine God saying, “Just in case you have some concerns or doubts Abram, you need to know that I can do what I said I would do.”
He is God Almighty! He has no limits. There are no difficult promises for God to keep. He is not just able, or strong, or even mighty, He is “All Mighty!” I pray that you will be encouraged today to hold on to the promise that God has made for you. He is more than powerful enough to do what He said He will do. Our God never writes checks that He can’t cash. If He made you a promise, you can be assured that He has a plan and that He will provided. God gets it done.
This world is an incredible place, no doubt about it. There are wonders to experience around every corner and each of these amazing spectacles are a testament to the creative power of our Lord. From the enormous scale of the universe to the craftsmanship of the microscopic, there is seemingly no limit to the wonders that we can look upon. We can see pictures of celestial bodies today that no human eye would have ever seen even a few years ago, and thanks to advances in technology we can explore minuscule parts of creation with ease. The same kind of wonder and awe can be experienced through our sense of hearing as well. The beauty of sounds, from the calls of whales frolicking in the open sea to the singing of birds, has amazed humanity since the very beginning.
As incredible as all of nature is, few things are as impressive as the human mind. The creativity and resourcefulness of humanity to change our environment and produce works of art and literature is seemingly unmeasurable. It is with these kinds of thoughts in mind that the apostle Paul tried to emphasize just how amazing God’s plans for us truly are. When talking about the plans that God has made for us and how the wisdom of man can not know depths of His plans, Paul writes,
“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT
Wow! The plans that God has for those of us who love Him must be beyond impressive to say the very least. According to Paul God’s plans for us are such that no one has ever seen anything or heard anything or even imagined anything that compares to them. That ought to get you excited today. Just how spectacular are Gods plans for us that nothing we have ever experienced or even dreamed about can hold a candle to them?
No, you can’t see or hear or imagine God’s plan for you but that doesn’t mean He wants to hide them from you. Paul goes on to explain that through the Holy Spirit God reveals His plans to us (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). Our eyes can’t take in God’s plans, our ears can’t perceive them, and our minds can’t construct them but we can know them if we listen to the Spirit of God as He reveals them to us. May it be our prayer to seek God’s plans and purposes for us and to receive those plans through His Spirit.
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 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.”