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!



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 12:6-11 Video Devotional

“Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” (Acts 12:6-11)

By now, Herod was getting tired of these newly formed Christians making such a noise. It was an annoyance to him, and he was no friend of God. Thus, Herod decided to turn up the heat on those agitators. After killing James, the brother of John, Herod got approval from the Jews and began his pursuit of Peter, arresting him.

This side of heaven, we will never know why people like James was allowed to be martyred and others like Peter were rescued, so all we can do is trust in God’s plan. But, regardless, it is clear here (again) that the Holy Spirit is working full force for the glory of Christ and the building of His church. Peter was in prison and completely helpless. And throughout the course of his rescue, he thought he was dreaming! God was running the show and putting people exactly where He wanted them. Again, we aren’t able to understand why some live and some don’t, but we do know that God is good all the time and that all the time, God is good. Therefore, he choice to rescue Peter (but not James) is the right choice for the best of everyone.

Peter is rescued, purely by the power of the Holy Spirit and winds up on the street, safe and sound. He then went to Mary’s house where they thought they were seeing Peter as an angel. There was significant cause for concern in regards to Herod’s persecution, and while they trusted in God, the early disciples were right to be wary of Herod’s efforts to eradicate the faith. Yet God still has His plan, and Herod, shortly thereafter, was struck down by an angel of the Lord.

God is moving the pieces around an opening up an opportunity for Paul to meet Agrippa (Herod’s successor) and share Jesus with him. Though we don’t tend to understand all of what God is doing and allowing, His plan is complete and perfect and good. And we can trust in that.



Acts 9:26-31 Video Devotional

“And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (Acts 9:26-31)

In our last devotional, we discussed Ananias and his (speculative) persepctive on what God asked him to do. For today, let’s bring the attention back to Paul. Now converted and growing in to the “tour de force” we know him to have been, his entrance into the world of Christianity was not easy. Mistrust, fear, anger and resentment were common emotions he faced in others as he tried to preach the gospel. People didn’t like him, and that’s fair enough – what he did was wrong, hurtful, evil, etc… Wisdom would have told anyone to be wary about Paul, especially in his newer days, but if it wasn’t for Barnabas, what would have happened?

We are all judgmental people. We are taught to look for signs and clues so that we can step forward in our lives with confidence and surety. This isn’t bad – in fact, it is an important and useful skill that can aid in a profitable life. However, as is normal in humanity, we take it too far and allow those judgments to determine how we treat people.

For example, how would you react (be honest with yourself) if your pastor got up to preach in rags? Or was unkempt and smelly? How about if they were covered in tattoos? Or worse yet, preached barefoot (those who have been with us for a while should get an extra chuckle out of that)? What if your pastor had a different skin color than you? Or was of a significantly different age? The reality of the situation is that we are quick to judge based on what we see on the outside. And God confirmed this in 1 Samuel 16 – we look on the outside, but God looks on the heart.

We need to realize that and use it as a check and balance every time a judgmental thought pops into our head about anyone. That should remind us to slow down and listen – truly listen to what that person is saying and prayerfully consider what God is telling us. Is our judgment correct? Or is this an opportunity to learn and be challenged?

God used Paul to shatter a lot of people’s perception of those whom God picks for His work. God chose Paul to be the catalyst that would spark the movement in history and turn it into a world-wide mission. Most people in that time would have picked him for death. How tightly do you hold onto your own judgments? Are you willing to let God speak to you in those moments and live with a teachable spirit? I hope so.

How has God opened your eyes during one of those times you were too quick to judge? I would love to hear some stories of how God helped you see those who are different from a holier perspective.



Acts 1:21-26 Video Devotional

“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:21-26)

The story about Matthias being named as one of the 12 is a very intriguing story to me. You have this little snippet of the disciples in the time between the ascension and Pentecost (about a week and a half), wherein which they (through prayer) decide to select the one to take Judas’ place. Scripture prophesied his office would be replaced and Mathias was chosen by casting of lots.

There isn’t anything wrong or any glaring sin shown in this story – in fact, it comes across as a very normal and expected thing to do. Except for one glaring omission. Throughout the rest of Scripture, we hear nothing of Matthias. I am sure he was around for some things, and who knows, we don’t know the identity of the author of Hebrews (no evidence suggest it was him, just to be clear), but it is hard to make an argument from silence that Matthias’s promotion was anything noteworthy. Maybe that’s just because it wasn’t noted anywhere.

Again, this is nothing against Matthias, but I have always been very curious as to why this story (with no follow-up about him) is mentioned in Scripture, especially when juxtaposed against one of the main characters of the book, Paul. My theory is simple – looking at this book as Acts of the Holy Spirit, Paul is God’s choice to “replace” Judas and be the 12th apostle. However, before the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the 11 disciples jumped in with both feet (as per usual) and acted on impulse, to which God allowed them (it certainly didn’t interrupt His plans any).

With its place in the book (right at the beginning of the sequel of Luke), it appears more to me that Luke places this there to act as a recap of sorts – reminding his readers of how the disciples acted and what power they had before the arrival of the Holy Spirit. This makes a perfect comparison to the strength and power on full display once Pentecost happened. Thus, we see without the Holy Spirit: impetuousness and the same old disciples; and after: POWER.

Why is this important? Because it sets up the main character – the Holy Spirit! His arrival changes everything! With Him on the scene, a dripping faucet turns into a raging river of God’s power flowing through these people and the consequences are on full display – people starting turning to Jesus by the thousands! Friends, we can do nothing on our own power, but by the power of God, there is nothing that can stand against us! Run to Him, dear friends. Run to the Spirit and let it be all Him. “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).



^