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.”
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 13:25-52
Key Verse: Acts 13: 52 “And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (NLT)
Paul continued to preach his sermon to the Jewish people in Antioch as he was trying to encourage them to accept that Jesus is the Messiah they were waiting for. As Paul preached this sermon he used the strongest weapon that we have as believers in Christ. Many times in his message he quoted from or made reference to the Word of God.
But how did Paul do that? Did he have a Bible with him everywhere he went? Probably not since the scriptures were only available on very large handwritten scrolls in his day. Paul was able to use the Word of God to help him when he shared about the death (v. 29) and resurrection (v. 30) of Jesus because he knew it in his heart. Paul had hidden God’s Word in his heart by reading it, studying it, and memorizing it. By doing this Paul had equipped himself with a great tool for sharing the Gospel.
It is important that reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word become an essential part of everyone’s life who sincerely wants to Act Out for Jesus. As you hide God’s Word in your heart, the Holy Spirit will bring what you have read and studied back to your memory so you can say the right things. If you don’t hide God’s Word in your heart, you won’t have that very powerful tool in your life when you share your faith. Make it your goal to have a regular and personal time in God’s Word everyday so you can be better equipped to Act Out effectively for Him.
Prayer: “Lord, thank-you for your Word. Please help me to read it regularly and remember it when I’m given an opportunity to share.”
Read Acts 13:1-24
Key Verse: Acts 13:12 “When the governor saw what had happened, he believed and was astonished at what he learned about the Lord.” (NLT)
Every now and again you will find yourself being confronted by someone who simply wants to stop you from being able to successfully share your faith with others. Saul, who is now known as Paul, faced one such character in the person of a sorcerer named Elymas. Elymas made it his business to try and stop the governor of Cyprus from accepting the Gospel message that Paul was preaching.
Elymas’ intentions were to stop people from believing. He was acting as an obstacle to the Gospel. When you decide to go about reaching others and sharing the Gospel with the lost around you it is very likely that you will face an Elymas of your own. Someone will likely make it his or her business to try and stop the good work you are doing.
The answer is to let God deal with the situation. All you need to do is to continue what you started and hold true to the message you are trying to share and let God do the rest. Paul didn’t do a thing to Elymas, he simply told him what God was going to do to him because of his behavior. God dealt with Paul’s obstacle and He will deal with ours if we trust Him to do it. The rewards of trusting God are always great. The governor came to believe in Jesus despite all of Elymas’ efforts. God is always at work and if you continue to be faithful to Him than He will certainly prove Himself faithful to you.
Prayer: “Lord it seems that whenever we try and do good things someone or something tries to stop us. Help me to learn to trust You to handle all the obstacles that stand in my way.
Read Acts 12:1-25
Key Verse: Acts 12:14 “When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, ‘Peter is standing at the door!” (NLT)
Everyone in the house that night thought Rhoda was out of her mind. She was telling them that Peter was at the door, yet they all knew that Peter was locked-up in the prison. Of course, we all know that Rhoda was not out of her mind, or was she?
Sure Peter was really at the door, sure she had really heard his voice but why did she run off without doing the one thing that she was obviously supposed to do, let Peter in. Was she really out of her mind? Perhaps she was. We are told that she was so overjoyed that she forgot to let him in. For that moment at least it seems that Rhoda lost her mind and forgot to do the most important thing, she forgot to obey the voice she had heard. Which is strange for a servant girl who’s whole life revolves around being obedient.
But what about us, would anyone be able to question whether or not we are out of our minds sometimes? If forgetting to obey a voice we recognize is the evidence of losing our minds than we are probably all a little crazy. As Christian we hear the voice of God speaking to “us regularly through His Word, yet how often do we neglect to do the things He asks us to do. How silly of us to hear the voice of God over and over again and yet we are more likely to run off excitedly to tell others what we have heard then we are to actually do what God asks us to do. As servants of God we need to learn to do the most important thing of all and obey the voice of our Master.
Prayer: “Lord, help me to be a good servant for you, my Master. Teach me to obey your voice every time I hear it.”