Acts 22:22-29 Video Devotional

“Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.” (Acts 22:22-29)
 
*I said chapter 21 in the video, but it is chapter 22. Sorry!

After getting their attention with the help of the tribune, Paul actually had them listening for a few moments. He recounted his original position as a persecutor of the faith, his experience on the Damascus road with Jesus, the blindness episode and even began to call them out directly by referencing what God told him about getting out of Jerusalem quickly. He was even able to reference the martyrdom of Stephen.

All was going along well enough, but then he had to go and mention the Gentiles. It is hard to explain the anger Jews had during that time period against the Gentiles. It was fierce, it was requited and it was complete. The Gentiles were everything that the Jews stood against (and that held true for the Gentiles as well) culturally, politically and morally. Of all the nations that had been enveloped inside the Roman Empire, the Jews were the ones who held strongest to their beliefs, fought the hardest and was the least affable. The dislike between cultures was obvious and palpable.

Only in Jesus was there ever any hope of reconciliation and peace. Paul found it; so did Peter and the other apostles; and there were lots of Gentiles who found that peace when they found Jesus. Some Jews were able to let go of their hate, but for a large number of them, accepting the Gentile believers was just a step too far. We think it is rough in our country today dealing with the rift between the Republicans and Democrats. We ain’t seen nothing yet!

Paul’s statement on the Gentiles incited a new level of hatred for him and the crowd immediately started shouting for his execution, so much so that the tribune was now ready to flog him (if for no other reason than making him deal with this mess). But Paul had a trump card – as a Roman citizen, he had rights. Those rights would protect him that day and lead to the very opportunity that the Jews were so against. If Paul was allowed to continue his preaching, the gospel would soon be available to the whole world, allowing everyone in. This was a major problem to the Jews. Seeing that the original promise to Abraham was that God would make through them a blessing that would bless the whole world, it is sad how far off track that nation had become. And all that over hate for those different than them. Let’s hope people today don’t repeat that same history.



Acts 13:1-3 Video Devotional

“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:1-3)

In Matthew 16, Jesus tells Peter that “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Though, since then, Christianity has faced the murder (and subsequent resurrection) of its founder, multiple martyrdoms and widespread persecution, it grew at an amazing and unstoppable rate. With His last words, Jesus tells the disciples that they will be His “witnesses in Judea, Jerusalem, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), and so far, despite everything it has faced, the church has grown tremendously. 

Though the church had already started spreading outside of Jerusalem (and the surrounding regions), it was time for the church to get intentional about its mission. It needs to start working towards the ends of the earth, and the Holy Spirit said, in chapter 13 that it was time to go. And thus begins Paul’s missionary journeys. Paul’s ultimate destination is Rome (where he is located at the end of Acts), but the missionary journeys themselves build pockets of Christianity all around the Roman world. By the time he reached Rome itself, Paul was a famous father of the faith and sought after leader of the Christian movement. That was because of the time he invested in so many people during the missionary journeys.

Paul was all things to all people, so that by all means, some of them would come to Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:22). He couldn’t do that if he hadn’t built countless intentional and deeply personal relationships with individuals across the landscape. Paul went and shared the love and grace of Jesus one by one. He spoke to many large groups, of course, but he knew and loved passionately each of the people he served with the gospel. 

We know Paul’s story is building up to be this huge catalyst in Rome. But while he certainly wanted to go there, I doubt he saw it the way we do now. He was just sharing Christ’s love to whomever would listen. He wasn’t focused on the fame or the influence. He was focused on the mission. I’m pretty sure he thought of little else. 

How much do you think about the mission? Where does your focus stick? Are you willing to be all things to all people (a particularly important question today)? Let’s pray together that we, as the church, would make sure this is our top priority. God bless you in your efforts to share His gospel!  



Acts 8:27-40 Video Devotional

“And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.” (Acts 8:27-40)

In times like this I hear a lot from people looking for justice, and they don’t always like when I respond with the idea that such an evil will work out for good. It can feel trite to say something like that and come across almost like it was good that what happened happened. I have this attitude because I believe and trust in our Savior who is turning all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). That means I know that whatever happens, it is an act of mercy and grace, working to draw the many to Himself. The questions to Christians is: how can we look at injustice with this kind of positive attitude?

As Philip quoted the passage in Isaiah and preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch, we see clearly that our Savior suffered the greatest injustice of all. As the completely perfect, sinless God-man, Jesus could not be convicted of any wrong doing. He is the only one in history completely and truly innocent. Yet He suffered greatly for our sins that were cast upon Him. And Jesus did it with a quiet grace and deep love for us. Three days later, the worst injustice in history was turned into the greatest victory by Him rising from the dead and giving those who believe eternal life. Injustice can be turned around and used for good.

That injustice brought salvation to the Ethiopian eunuch. That injustice led to millions across the world and across time being given eternity in Heaven. It led to an evil murderer putting down his hatred and picking up love. It even led to teleportation! (ok, so this is a bit of fun, but try to wrap your head around what happens to Philip in v39-40 – that was about a 30 mile trek to Azotus!) God is a brilliant “turn-around” artist. He is able to take the evil things and turn them around. Joseph realized this when he met his brothers after becoming the second in command in Egypt. Philip realized this when he, on the road because of the great persecution and Dispersion, got the opportunity to bring salvation to another.

Evil’s power is destroyed at the hands of God and turned into good. I pray that you let Him use the evils and injustices in our world to change you for good and use you as an instrument of love towards others.



Acts 4:32-35 Video Devotional

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32-35)

Following right on the heels of our previous devotional, today’s section doesn’t fit as nicely in our society today. It presents a challenge to our ruggedly individualistic, eat what your own hands earn, individual responsibility culture that exists throughout our country, but even moreso in the evangelistic community. There are a few things here worth noting: 1) The believers were all completely unified in attitude and purpose. They were dedicated to one singular goal and willing to do what it took to get that done. 2) The gospel being preached was at the center of everything. 3) They all pooled their money together and voluntarily chose to live in an monetarily equal commune.

The communal lifestyle is what draws issues from many people today, but that is only a part of this story (some of which we will finish tomorrow). With the Holy Spirit drawing people into complete unity amongst each other and the gospel as the central driving purpose, we see the believers taking an intense care into the well-being of each other and others around them, to the point of handing over all their belongings for the benefit of others. This is the real key.

Believers with more money were handing over their treasures so that money could go to other people (this is not a place for a political rant, because this was not a political act). It was benevolence on a larger scale. It was choosing to live without the excess so that others would have enough.

Today, this act would look different, but is just as vital as it was back then. All 3 of these exist together inside the rhythms of discipleship that we have taught on numerous occasions: Look Up, Look In, Look Out. Look Up – they were unified because they were fully focused on their relationships with God. Look In – because of the unity in the Spirit, they saw each other’s need as an opportunity to love and serve, doing so without hesitation. Look Out – the end goal was the same for everyone – sharing the gospel and proclaiming Jesus at all costs. It wasn’t about life or comfort; it was about purpose. It was about the Great Commission. it was about being His witnesses. That was top priority.

What is your top priority? That drives everything else. I challenge you to respond with your top priority in life, either in the comments or personally through email. What goal holds your top spot in life?



Acts 4:29-31 Video Devotional

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:29-31)

This is a great verse to memorize. This is shortly after Peter and John are at the Jewish Council where they were threatened not to spread the gospel anymore. They chose the bold path and continued to preach Jesus everywhere they went. They didn’t deny their suffering or the risks ahead, but went to the other believers and shared everything, thus allowing the believers to be in prayer for them.

Prayer is such a huge ingredient in spiritual success. It connects us to God, puts us in a humble position to listen and seek the will of the Lord. When we pray for God’s will to be done, we are not asking for what we want, but for what He wants – it lets the Spirit work freely in our hearts when we have an attitude of submission to Him. And that’s what the believers did in praying for Peter and John.

When they did that, notice the response of the prayer. It wasn’t just effective for the apostles, but for everyone who participated and led to even more of an impact with more people speaking the name of Jesus with boldness. When we get out of our own way, let God’s will reign in our soul and stop trying to do what we think is best, incredible things will happen.

Be encouraged, friends! If you pray for boldness to share the gospel, it is very likely that you will receive it, as it is God’s will for us to make disciples (Matt 28:19). Therefore ask freely, but be prepared and know that you will then need to use that boldness and will be opposed. Know that there are consequences for following God (mostly good, though you will be subject to spiritual warfare). Pray the above verse for yourself and your church family – let’s see what happens!



Genesis 27:26-29 Video Devotional

“Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,

See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed! May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” (Genesis 27:26-29)

This blessing is a truly undeserved blessing. Jacob was not a worthy recipient, nor did he achieve it honestly. He stole it from His brother. Yet, what is the gospel if not undeserved favor? The reality is, none of us are any better (or worse) than Jacob. As human, we just are. We are sinful. Nothing we can do will earn us the merit bestowed freely by God through Christ. And I think that was the point of this part of the story. If Jacob, in any way, deserved this blessing than Ephesians 2:8-9 would become meaningless.

Romans 5:8 says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. It is another example showing that there is nothing we can do to deserve or earn salvation. The gospel is a gift and only a gift. Enjoy that gift tonight and share it with someone you know. Blessings to you!



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