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 1:6-11 Video Devotional

“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:6-11)

What must if have felt like to watch Jesus rise up into Heaven? I bet it looked cool, but at the same time, devastating. The disciples were still trying to figure this out as they go along – after all, they survived the cross and then scored this huge victory by seeing Jesus rise from the dead – only to end up at the ascension, watching Him leave again. This time was much better than the first, but I imagine it still being quite painful.

And it is at this time Jesus lays down the action plan moving forward. We WILL be His witnesses – is that a command, or a declaration? Without going too much into semantics, it appears that this is more of a declaration that actually speaks louder than one might expect. This is what He lays down to His disciples – His goal is that the gospel would expand outward from Jerusalem and become something that would reach across the whole world. For that to happen, Rome would be a great place to see that explosion take place.

Thus, as we read through the book of Acts, we see the gospel first in Jerusalem, then moving outward all the way until we end up in Rome, with Paul on house arrest, having all sorts of people come in to talk with him and hear the gospel. It sounds like Jesus’ declaration came to fruition – at least the beginning stage of it. And that’s where the church comes in.

The title of the Book is officially “Acts of the Apostles”, though I do not think that is the best option for the title. The book launches us with the declaration and ends with the catalyst of Paul being in Rome and the gospel fully taking off around the world; but that was just the beginning – it hadn’t reached the ends of the earth yet – in fact, it still hasn’t, which means that declaration is meant to include us as well. He is using us to be His witnesses as well.

And then we have the true power behind the book. Over and over we will see as we work our way through Acts that the Holy Spirit is the One making everything happen – at one point, Peter’s shadow is performing miracles! That shows us it is actually the Holy Spirit doing the work – thus I suggest calling it “Acts of the Holy Spirit” and that title holding true today. This is His work and we are along for the ride. Enjoy this, my friends! We are along for the ride in the river of God – which He graciously allows us to participate in!



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