Read Acts 17:16-33
Key Verse: Acts 17:32 “When they heard Paul speak of the resurrection of a person who had been dead, some laughed, but others said, ‘We want to hear more about this later.” (NLT)
When we want to share our faith with others we are often nervous and hesitant because we are afraid that someone might laugh at us. The desire to Act Out for God is there in our lives but the idea of being laughed at makes it so difficult to do what we really want to do for God. The important thing that we need to remember is that we are not alone in this, even the Apostle Paul was laughed at, yet he never let that stop him from continuing to Act Out.
People always laugh at ideas that seem strange to them, it’s just a human reaction to try and deal with being forced to accept new ideas. People laughed at the idea of the world being round instead of flat, they laughed at the idea of space travel, they even laughed at the idea of gravity. It does not really matter that people laughed at those ideas in the past, what matters is that we have accepted them all now. Imagine if people stopped trying to prove that the world was round simply because they were laughed at. North America would hardly be populated at all and it certainly would not be the home of some of the world’s greatest nations.
People may laugh at you when you share your faith and Act Out for God. But the real important thing is that while some may laugh others may come to believe and you may be able to help change the world for somebody.
Prayer: “Lord, it is very hard to share about your love to people who laugh at me but I know that they only do it because they don’t know how to react. Help me to stand up and Act Out for you because although some may laugh, others may come to believe in you.”
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.”
Read Acts 15:1-21
Key Verse: Acts 15:9 “He made no distinction between us and them, for He also cleansed their hearts through faith.” (NLT)
Peter was called of God to do a very special work. He had to begin the work of spreading the Gospel message to the Gentile people. It seems that part of that responsibility was to protect and take care of them after they had received Jesus as their Lord. Peter found himself in the middle of a hot debate: Should gentile Christians be expected to do exactly what Jewish Christians were doing?
The decision was made that they were accepted by God the way they were and should not be weighed down with extra rules and regulations that would only make it impossible for them to stay true to Christ. The only regulations that the church decided to place on new Gentile believers were ones that related to purity, living a holy life, and protecting one’s witness.
As a Christian you are called to Act Out for God and reach those in your circle of influence for Jesus. Once they come to Christ, the question will then become: How should we expect them to live now that they are Christians? From Peter’s example we need to understand that many of the standards of living that we are used to as believers may be very important for Christian living while some may not be absolutely necessary for everyone else. The real issues that need to be dealt with are the ones that relate to how we live pure, holy lives while maintaining a high standard to protect our witness. Whatever the case, it is important that we not burden down new believers simply to try and turn them into us.
Prayer: “Lord, help me to accept that not all Christians have to be just like me and please help me to protect my witness.”
Read Acts 14:1-28
Key Verse: Acts 14:9 “He was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed.” (NLT)
Tucked into this action packed chapter is the account of how one man who was crippled from birth had received a healing from God. Paul and Barnabas were preaching the Good News to the people in the city of Lystra when this one man seems to stand out to Paul. We are told that Paul noticed that this crippled man had faith to be healed. It is exciting to see that Paul was looking at the crowds to see who had faith. It was common for the believers to see many great miracles (v. 3) and Paul was always looking for opportunities to see God do great things in people’s lives. What about us, do we look for opportunities to see God do such amazing things as heal a man crippled from birth?
There was something special about that crippled man. Paul could see by looking at him that he had faith to be healed of a disability that he had lived with all his life. What does faith look like when you can see it in someone’s face as Paul did? More importantly, do we have that kind of faith that people can see in us simply by looking at our faces? I think we ought to have that kind of faith in God, faith that believes and expects whole-heartedly. The same kind of faith and expectation that little children have when they are excited at the possibility of something good happening. Let your faith help you to look for opportunities to see God’s power at work and ask God for the kind of faith that people can see in your life just by looking at you.
Prayer: “Lord, please give me more faith in you. I want to have the faith and courage to Act Out as Paul did when I see opportunities to see your power displayed in people’s lives.”
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.”