Acts 28:23-31 Video Devotional

When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

“‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (Acts 28:23-31)

Paul settled into Rome and enjoyed a mostly free lifestyle. He had his own place and was able to take in anyone who would listen to his message. Unfortunately for his Jewish brothers, they (for the most part) were not willing to accept the truth of Jesus and left after he quoted to them from Isaiah. That quote is a sad realization that they would not be turning towards Jesus.

It does, however, signal the turn to the Gentiles, opening up in the catalyst city of Rome and opportunity for all people to come near to Jesus and accept His free gift. Paul continued to preach boldly about Jesus – I see it in my mind like an assembly line standing outside Paul’s home for people going in, one-by-one and coming out saved. And with each one of them, as they head to different homes, neighborhoods, cities, regions, and nations being carried out by a person now filled with the Holy Spirit was the gospel of Jesus.

The message turned into a movement. That same movement is alive and well today, being carried on by people filled with the Holy Spirit and willing to take the Name of Jesus anywhere He will lead. Are you one of those carriers?

Acts 21:27-39 Video Devotional

“When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!” As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” (Acts 21:27-39)

A nasty conflict is brewing. The Jewish leaders (which include believers in Christ) are becoming furious about two main things in Paul’s message. 1) Gentiles were allowed in and being made right with God, and 2) Paul was putting Jesus on the same level as God and proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. While there were many in the Jewish traditions that were open to Jesus and even were beginning to see Him for who He is, the public audacity Paul had to proclaim it the way he did (especially with his push to bring Gentiles into the inner-circle) was completely unacceptable and they had to figure out a way to “handle” it.

So, as he was preparing to celebrate Pentecost with his Jewish brothers, the leadership sprang into action. They had Paul arrested for the above mentioned “crimes” and got violent with him, leading to his arrest at the hands of the famed/feared Romans. They had done this before. Jesus intended to give His life as a ransom for many. Paul’s plan (in concordance with the Holy Spirit) was a bit different.

When the tribune had him and was leading him away, his questioning led to Paul telling him where he was from, which give the tribune a hint that Paul may be a Roman citizen. Upon that, the tribune was immediately much gentler and allowed Paul a chance to speak to the crowd. This was Paul’s plan; speaking to whatever audience would grant him a moment, and with the help of the Roman tribune, Paul had a captive audience.

Paul’s end goal never changed. His plan, efforts, and desires were always to speak the gospel to whomever would listen. He didn’t care if he was doing it in a coffee house, church, or in chains. And his willingness to preach Jesus no matter the situation led to some interesting locations. We all tend to find opportunities to do more of what we truly care for. What is your strongest desires? Does it have to do with sharing your faith? Or is that more of an “if I have to and the opportunity presents itself” kind of deal? God tends to open up more opportunities to those who truly desire it.

Acts 13:42-49 Video Devotional

“As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.” (Acts 13:42-49)

Paul and Barnabas, here towards the beginning of their missionary careers, developed their plan. Basically, as they come into each new city, they would first go to the synagogue and preach to the Jews, then after to preach to the Gentiles. Here in the city of Pisidian Antioch, however, the disciples saw quickly that though there was fertile soil to work with, the Jewish community as a whole was infuriated and would stop at nothing to destroy the work of these men.

At that reception, Paul turns his attention towards the Gentiles and sees immediate fruit. And even though they faced persecution, Paul and Barnabas were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit as they headed on towards the next town.

Paul knew he had a job to do – reach the Gentiles. Though his love for the Jewish community meant that he would keep trying to reach as many of them as he could, it was clear there would be fertile soil with the Gentiles. He obeyed the Spirit’s leading and saw many local churches start with many saved believers. In the face of persecution and attacks, these missionaries were filled with joy – they knew what they were doing and who they were serving. And they were glad.

Are you glad? There are a lot of things going on in our world that are causing suffering, heartache and frustrations. Are you glad to face those for the sake of Christ? I hope so, because that is our calling and the people who need us most. Tell me your story in the comments!