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 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.”