Engaging The World
Through Acts

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Daily Devotional Through the Book of Acts

Day 1 | We start with the end...
Day 1 | We start with the end...
We start with the end…

 

Read: Acts 1:8 “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.”

Reflect: Jesus Went. This is the theme for our Lenten sermon series this year. Jesus went to a lot of places, and Christ calls us to do the same. Acts 1:8 says, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Throughout Lent, we will walk through the book of Acts, looking at the early church’s different acts and discovering where we are to go. Our first devotional thought comes to us from Acts chapter 1 verse 8. We start with the end. Jesus is about to make his ascension into heaven. Before He does, He makes a point to tell His disciples to be witnesses to the end of the earth. This holds for us today. We are called to be Christ’s witnesses to the end of the earth. For some of us, this may mean going to another country, but for others being Christ’s witness may look like sharing the Gospel in your backyard. No matter where you are to go, you are being sent. And just as Jesus went, so must you.

Where are you being Sent?

Pray: God, thank you for sending your Son into this world to be sent to the many places He went. Be with me as I am sent into the world. Lord, help me determine the places or people you want me sent to. Amen.

Additional reading: Acts 1:1-11

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Day 2 | What First?
Day 2 | What First?
What first?

 

Read: Acts 1:8 “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”

Reflect: Okay, you are called to be sent. By now, I am sure you have heard that said once or twice before. Now we will spend 40 plus days in the book of Acts trying to figure out this idea of sentness; that’s great. But what do you do first? How do you take knowing you are sent to actually going? Simple, pray. One of the first things the disciples do is gather together in the community and pray. Jesus has just left them. I imagine the disciples had the thought of “now what” running through their heads. But they don’t waste any time; they go right to God in prayer. That’s what we are supposed to do as well. We are called to pray. If you don’t know where you are being sent, pray. If there is someone you know who doesn’t know where they are being sent, pray with them. Pray and don’t be afraid to ask God, “God, where are you sending me?”

What is your prayer life like? Are there steps you can take this Lenten season to strengthen your prayer life?

Pray: God, today my prayer is simple, send me, Lord. I don’t always know where to go or to whom I am called, so God, I ask for wisdom and a clear vision. God, I am ready to be sent. Where are you sending me? Amen.

Additional reading: Acts 1:12-26

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Day 3 | Gift of the Spirit
Day 3 | Gift of the Spirit

Gift of the Spirit

Read: Acts 2:38 “And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Reflect: At times, it seems like the Holy Spirit is an overlooked part of the Trinity, but it should not be. Through the waters of Holy Baptism, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and what a gift it is. You are not sent out into this world alone. You are sent with the Spirit. When times seem challenging, when you have no idea what you should be asking God for, the Spirit, as Paul tells us in Romans, intercedes for us. Always remember you are not sent out alone. You are sent with the gift of the Spirit.

Talk with someone about the Holy Spirit. What does it mean that we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Pray: Heaven Father, thank you for the gift of the Spirit. Thank you for sending us into the world with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Day 4 | Your Actions
Day 4 | Your Actions
Your Actions
 
Read: Acts 3:9 “And all the people saw him walking and praising God.”
 
Reflect: Have you ever had a conversation with someone and said, “hold on let me look that up.” You pull up Google and get two letters in and the first suggestion that Google has is the thing you were talking about. It’s true, we are being watched. No matter how hard we try, someone is always watching. Knowing this fact, how are you being as an example? Knowing that there are eyes on you, how are you being as an example for Christ in your day to day life? It’s not always easy, there will be bad moments or bad days but we should always strive to be examples for Christ in our day to day lives. Walking around praising God as you are sent into the places that God has called you.
 
Think back to your last interaction with someone who is far from God. How did it go? How can you be a better example for God to the world?
 
Pray: Lord, help me be a better example for You. Lord help me to walk around praising You everywhere I go. Amen.
 
Additional Readings: Acts 3:1-10
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Day 5 | Who Sends You?
Day 5 | Who Sends You?

Who Sends you?

Read: Acts 3:13 “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus.”

Reflect: If you have ever been searching for a doctor, I am sure it led you down a path of a lot of questions. You got recommendations from friends. You looked up the doctor’s credentials online. You wanted to find out as much as you could about the doctor to make sure you were making the right choice, that you were going to the right person. Who sends you? God does. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob. The God who created the heavens and the earth. The God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The God who sent His Son into the world for you. If you are looking for credentials, you do not have to look very hard in the Bible to know God has got this. He has the authority to send you to places you may not feel like going. Trust Him. He knows what he is doing.

Is there a description for God that you find comforting? 

Pray God, my prayer is simple. Help me trust you more. Help me question you less and follow you more. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 3:11-26

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Day 6 | Sunday School Answer
Day 6 | Sunday School Answer

Sunday School Answer

Read: Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Reflect: So, when you go out into the world, what do you say? When someone asks you a question, what is the answer? Maybe you think I am not ready to be sent out because I don’t know enough. The answer is always Jesus. What a true statement that is. It’s the Sunday School answer, but it is still right. Who saves us? Jesus. Who rescued us from sin, death, and the devil? Jesus. Who is our reason for the new life that God has given us? Jesus. Jesus, the only source of salvation, rescues us from the devil. The answer is always Jesus. If you are worried, you don’t have the right words to share with people, never fear because you have Jesus.

 People believe there are other ways to be saved; what are some? Knowing these, how can you respond to them knowing that Jesus is the only source of our salvation?

Pray: Jesus, thank you for your amazing work on the cross. Please help me to share the message of your saving work with others around me. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 4:1-22

 

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Day 7 | Respond in Boldness
Day 7 | Respond in Boldness

 Respond in boldness.

Read: Acts 4:29 “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”

Reflect: How do you respond when someone pushes back against you? How do you respond when someone disagrees with you? How do you respond when someone is mean to you? We can play all these scenarios out in our heads, but when we are put in these situations, we may not respond in the way we practiced in our minds or the way we should. It’s interesting what the disciples are doing here, and it is an example to us. They just faced the council. They were put in front of men who wanted them thrown in prison for healing a man. You could understand why they would be frustrated, but they were not. They go to God and pray for……..boldness. They ask God to give them boldness in proclaiming the message of Jesus. They ask what we should be asking for; the ability to carry on even in the face of adversity. No matter what opposition gets placed in our path, we, too should pray for the boldness to carry on. 

Have you ever experienced opposition to the message of the Gospel? If so, how did you respond?

Pray: God, just as you gave boldness to the believers in the early church, I too pray for boldness in my life. Boldness to share the message of your son no matter what response I get. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 4:23-31

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Day 8 | Give Everything to One Another
Day 8 |  Give Everything to One Another

Give Everything to One Another.

Read: Acts 4:34-35 “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.”

Reflect: I love this picture of the early church. An accurate picture of Christian unity. What happened? Over the many years, it seems the church has gotten away from this. We have how many Christian denotations? A lot. Even within churches, there are divisions. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back to the way things used to be? Wouldn’t it be great if no one in our church ever needed anything because the church (meaning the people that make up the church) were filling all the needs? It could happen, and it does happen. The church is intended to be a collection of people worshiping God, giving testimony to the Lord Jesus’s resurrection, and sharing the gifts that God has given to us with each other. God gives us property and resources for our neighbor’s benefit. Who can you share with today?

 How can you fill the need of someone close to you? If you need something, be sure to reach out to someone, people may not know how to help you if they don’t know there’s a problem. 

Pray: Lord Jesus, help me live a life of Christian Unity. Help me to share the many blessings that you give to me with others. Amen. 

Additional Reading: Acts 4:32-5:16

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Day 9 | Boldness Acted Out
Day 9 | Boldness Acted Out

 Boldness Acted out.

Read: Acts 5:19-21, “But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.”

Reflect Follow the flow of actions in these several past verses. The apostles are arrested for preaching God’s word, they are released from prison by an angel, and then they go right back to doing the same thing they were arrested for in the first place. Wow. Earlier in Acts, the apostles prayed for boldness, and I don’t know about you, but their actions seem bold. Boldness is not the only thing they show here. Trust in God is another. They were given a mission (the same mission we are given today) to share the Gospel message with the world. There was nothing that was going to get in their way. We, too, should trust in God no matter what it’s placed in our way. Just as God cared for the apostles, He cares for us also. 

 If you got in trouble telling someone about Jesus would you keep doing it after you served your punishment?  

Pray: Lord, we pray for boldness yet again. Please help us push through the roadblocks in our lives and continue sharing the Gospel message with the world.

Additional Reading: Acts 5:17-42

 

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Day 10 | Who is neglected in your group?
Day 10 | Who is neglected in your group?

 Who is neglected in your group?

Read: Acts 6:1 “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.”

Reflect : Who among you is neglected? There are a lot of people in this world. I know understatement of the year. With so many people in this world, with so many people in your church, community, or even social circles, some are overlooked, those who are neglected. This is not an excuse, though. We should be actively seeking out those in our communities who are being ignored. We need to step in and be the church. Serve those who are unable to serve themselves.  

Who is someone neglected in your life?

Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, help me see the people in my life that I can help. Lord, give me the wisdom to see those who need help and help them in the ways that best serve them. 

Additional Reading: Acts 6

 

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Day 11 | “Saying what we need to say”
Day 11 | “Saying what we need to say”

Saying what we need to say

Read: Acts 7:51-53 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Reflect: So often, we do not say what we truly feel or even what we are meant to say. Say you have to have a difficult conversation with someone, and you practice everything you will say to that person in the mirror. It is conversation time, and it seems like everything you wanted to say leaves your head, and you say next to nothing. Stephen does not hold back here. Stephen knows what is at stake here. He knows that he could get in big trouble for saying what needs to be said. Stephen is not worried about himself; he is concerned about the people he is speaking. Stephen says what the Lord would have him say. 

How can you overcome the fear of saying what needs to be said. 

Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, help me to say the things that need to be said. Lord, give me the courage to speak your truth even if it may hurt my reputation. Amen 

Additional Reading: Acts 7:1-53

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Day 12 | God Can Use Anyone
Day 12 | God Can Use Anyone

God can use anyone.

Read: Acts 8:1 “And Saul approved of his execution.”

Reflect: Here we meet Paul…..I mean Saul. Saul approves of the Stoning of Stephen, which is a look into Saul’s future, one that would be filled with the persecution of the Christian church. Until, of course, that day when Jesus steps in and says enough. (But we will get to that later). Why this verse, though? Easy, God can use anyone he wants to advance his kingdom, no matter the past. God can and does use you. Don’t ever think you are not good enough or that there is too much bad stuff or baggage in your past for you to consider being a disciple. You are good enough because you are a child of God, you are his creation, and he desires to use you to spread the Gospel message.

Is it not the testament to the power of God for Saul to go from Saul to Paul?

Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, use me to advance the Gospel message. Help me to show others that they are good enough and you can use them too, no matter their past. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 7:54-8:3

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Day 13 |  What’s behind your actions?
Day 13 |  What’s behind your actions?

 What’s behind your actions?

Read: Acts 8:20, “But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”

Reflect: We are introduced to a man named Simon. Simon was a former magician (no, not the Vegas kind). Simon heard the word of the Lord preached, believed, and was baptized! Great news, right? What a story to the power of the Holy Spirit. Well…….the story continues. Simon thinks that he can gain the power the apostles have. He is baptized, he believes, but his heart is not in the right place. Worse than that, he wants the power so he can continue to influence the people. Your actions matter but so does the reasoning behind your actions. People see the external, but God sees your heart. It is essential that you are doing so with the right mindset when you are serving God and being sent. Set your heart on the things of God.

Have you ever done something right but for the wrong reasons?

Pray: Lord Jesus, help me have the right mindset when I serve you. Lord, there may be times where I do the right thing but for the wrong reasons. Help me to have a heart for you in all that I do. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 8:4-25

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Day 14 | On his way
Day 14 | On his way

On his way

Read: Acts 8:27, “So Philip started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians.  

Reflect: How do you start your day?  Do you have a calendar to keep track of people to meet and places you plan to go?  How often do they get changed? That morning, when Philip started his day, what do you think he had planned? Was he surprised when an angel of the Lord spoke to him? (or the Spirit of the Lord, v. 29?) What plans did he change in order to obey the directions he received?  He probably had not planned to meet this person from a different culture, country, social setting! Philip was prepared to meet this man because he knew God’s Word and could share Jesus with the Ethiopian.  The Holy Spirit works through us, His people, to bring the good news of Jesus.  

Who will you meet as you are “on your way” today?  Please share Jesus with them!

Pray:  What a privilege you give me, Lord, in unexpected meetings of people in my life. Give me the willingness to “go alongside them”, listen to how I can help them to know Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.  Thank You for someone telling me about Jesus, so I can share Him with others.  Amen.

Additional Reading:  Acts 8:26-40

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Day 15 | Was blind but now I see!
Day 15 | Was blind but now I see!

Was blind but now I see!

Read:  Acts 9:17-18 “Ananias, placing his hands on Saul said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.”

Reflect: We all have “blind spots”.  Have you ever quickly changed lanes and heard the loud blast of a horn, suddenly realizing there WAS a car you couldn’t see? (or a motorcycle, pedestrian, animal?)  Have you been so firmly convinced that you were right and your spouse (boss) was wrong, that when the truth came out – you realized you had a “blind spot”?  Not very comfortable, was it?  Saul was a man of very strong convictions – but he had a “blind spot”. He thought he was obeying God by trying to stop those who followed Jesus; until Saul was shown “the Light” – Jesus appeared to him!  What an “eye opening” experience – both literal and spiritual!  Saul was physically blind for 3 days having been spiritually blind for many years and when Ananias came and told him about Jesus, “scales fell from his eyes” and Saul could see clearly!  He spent the rest of his life trying to help others who were blind to be able to “see” the truth of Jesus!

What “blind spots” does God want to heal in your life?  Who will or does God place in your life to help to “you’re your eyes” to the truth of Jesus?

Pray:  Open my eyes, Lord, to the blind spots in my life, especially in my attitude, words and actions toward others.  Continue to help me to see others as You see them, Your dear children who are harassed and helpless in this world without faith and trust in you. Thank You for the Ananias’s in my life that You use to help me see my blind spots and who speak Your Word to me, encouraging me to live my life for You. Amen.

 

Additional reading:  Acts 9:1-31

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Day 16 | Special Powers
Day 16 | Special Powers

Special Powers”

Read:  Acts 9:34, 40 “Peter said to Aeneas, ‘Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat. Immediately Aeneas got up… Peter went to Joppa, where Tabitha (Dorcas) had died. He got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes and sat up…”

Reflect:  Many children’s cartoons (and some adults too) have heroes who have “super powers”.  We are entertained by the stories told of these powers being used for good.  In the early church, the Holy Spirit gave special “super powers” to Peter and some of the early apostles as a way of helping the message of Jesus to spread quickly.  The healing of a paralytic – bedridden for 8 years; as well as raising Tabitha back to life were two ways that God worked “super powers” through Peter so that people might believe in Jesus and listen to the Word about Jesus proclaimed by Peter and the others.  Although we don’t see it, there is “super power” in baptism – the death and resurrection in every baptism because of the power of Jesus’ Word and promise. There are “super powers” when God’s Word is preached and taught – hearts and lives are changed, sins are forgiven, new life is lived in Jesus.

As we share Jesus and His Word and Sacraments with others, Jesus works His “super powers” through us.  How can you use your “super powers” today?

Prayer:  Thank You, Jesus for Your “super powers” given to make me Your dear child.  As You continue to work through Your Word and Sacraments, help others to also be blessed by these special gifts You give today As many turned to You through the special ministry of Peter, also help others to turn to You through my words and actions. Amen.  

Additional reading: Acts 9:32-43

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Day 17 | Labels
Day 17 | Labels

Labels!

Read: “Peter said, ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right through the message of the good news of peace through Jesus Christ.”  Acts 10:34-36

Reflect:  We so naturally “label” people: rich or poor; white or black; smart or dumb; friend or enemy; good or bad – and often these labels come because of prejudices we have.  Peter, and the Jews, had a label for those who were “unclean”, rejected, “have nothing to do with” people – the Gentiles.  This was not God’s desire; God so love the world (Jews and Gentiles) that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus for the salvation of the world.  Peter’s false belief was so in-grained that it took quite a vision, quite an experience for Peter so see the truth – God does not show favoritism but accepts all people from every nation who put their faith and trust in Jesus.  Maybe we could use only two labels:  “with Jesus” and “not yet with Jesus”…

How is Jesus working against the “labels” you put on people to open your eyes that He loves all people and wants all people to be saved?  Who might be the Cornelius and family in your life?

Prayer:  I’m so glad Jesus, that You do not show favoritism!  Who could be saved, who could be in Your Kingdom if it was a matter of competition or favoritism?  Sin has infected us all, and You know that we need rescue and salvation that only You can provide – and You have provided it, fully!  Thank You, Jesus.  Fill me with Your love for all others.  Amen.

Additional reading: Acts 10

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Day 18 | Jesus came for the Gentiles too
Day 18 | Jesus came for the Gentiles too

“Jesus came for the Gentiles too.”

Acts 11:18. “When they heard these things, they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

It seems the debate of who did Jesus come for has been around since the beginning. There were many at the time of Acts that felt Jesus came only for the Jewish people. However, time and time again, the disciples and Paul must remind people that Christ came for the Gentiles, too, meaning Christ came for all people. Through the Law, God drives all people to repentance, and through the Gospel, he grants everlasting life. The question, “did Jesus come for me,” should never cross your mind. He did, and he continues to do so today.

Do you know anyone who struggles with the idea that Christ came for all people, even the people they don’t like?

Lord Jesus, thank you for coming into the world for all people, including me. Help me be a beacon of light in the world. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 11:1-18

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Day 19 | The Hand of the Lord
Day 19 | The Hand of the Lord

The Hand of the Lord.”

Verse: Acts 11:21. “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”

Devotion: Thank back to your childhood. Little kids love holding someone’s hand, have you ever noticed? When you walk around a public place (before Covid, of course), you see kids holding the hand of their mom or dad. They trust and love their parents, and somehow, they know their parents lead them where they are meant to go. Wouldn’t it be great if we all lived like this? Would it be great if we were all guided by the hand of the Lord, trusting him through all things and trusting that He has our best interest in mind and that he will lead us where we are meant to go? Even when things get rough, even when things seem out of control, even when things seem dark, our Lord has got your hand, and He will always lead you where you are meant to go.

Question: What steps can you take to trust Jesus better?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, strengthen my faith in you. Lord, there are times where I try to take control because I think I know what is best but help me trust you. Amen.

Additional Reading: Acts 11:19-30

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Day 20 | The Cost of Discipleship
Day 20 | The Cost of Discipleship

The Cost of Discipleship

Read: Acts 12:2-3, “He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also.”

Reflect: Is it possible that the cost of following Jesus could mean the end of your life? The simple yet complex answer is yes. Throughout much of the book of Acts, we see examples of the followers of Christ worried more about the Gospel than their own lives. It’s hard to imagine living in a country, or city, where your life could be in danger for what you believe. The crazy thing is it could happen. It happens all over the world today. One would think that the threat of death would cause the church to shrink, but that would be an incorrect assumption. The church has a way of growing in times of persecution, and it is truly a testament to who Jesus is.

Are you ready to die for your faith?

Pray: Lord, be with the church here and around the world. Help it to grow and be strengthened in the face of persecution. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 12

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Day 21 | Fasting
Day 21 | Fasting

Fasting

Verse: Acts 13:3, “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”

Devotion: We have talked about praying, now let’s talk about fasting. Have you ever fasted? Now I know fasting has become a diet trend. I see the meal plans for fasting on Facebook all the time. Also, we are not talking about fasting, as in eating dinner at 6 pm and then lunch the next day at noon. What we are talking about is fasting for the Lord. Fasting has been a practice in the church since the beginning, and this is not a practice that went away. When you choose to fast and then fill that time with Christ, you would be surprised what happens. Devoting your time during fasting to pray and the scripture can be a great experience. Give it a try when it gets challenging; lean on the Word of God for your strength and prayer. 

Thought:

1. Give fasting a try sometime.
2. Set aside sometime during Lent to fast.
3. Fill that time with prayer and scripture.

When it gets hard, lean on the Word of God. 

Prayer: Lord, you made the ultimate sacrifice for me. Help me make a sacrifice in my life for you. Amen.

Additional Reading: Acts 13:1-12

 

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Day 22 | Go with what they know
Day 22 | Go with what they know

Go with what they know

Verse: Acts 13:17, “The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it.”

Devotion: It’s interesting what Paul is doing here. There was a gathering of people, they read through the Law, and then the question was asked, “does anyone have anything to say?” Paul takes this opportunity to talk about Jesus. What is interesting is how Paul goes about doing this. He does not go straight to Christ. He starts in the very begging. He begins with a common ground, topics that the people there would understand, and then using that, he points them to Christ. We must do the same. When we have the opportunity to speak with someone about Jesus, we should start from a posture of listening. Figure out where they are coming from. Listen for ways that Jesus can speak into their lives. Find some common ground. It will go a long way.

Thought: Think about ways you work on growing your listening skills.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to listen better. Please help me to listen to you more and to those you place in my life. Amen.

 

Additional Reading: Acts 13:13-52

 

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Day 23 | Several messages
Day 23 |  Several messages

Several messages

Verse: Acts 14:2, “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brother.”

Devotion: Here is the unfortunate truth. There will be competing messages against the one you are telling. It’s sad, honestly. Things in this world claim to be the truth. Things or people that will say they are more of the truth than God’s truth. Even worse, there are those in our lives who claim to be Christians, who claim to speak the truth, but they are not in all reality. Listen to the word of the Lord. Read and digest his word and listen to what it says. It’s essential to read the word of God for yourself so that you can adequately distinguish between those speaking the truth or those trying to poison your mind.

Question: What is a common phrase spoken that claims to be from God but is not?

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me listen to your word alone and speak truth to those around me. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 14:1-18

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Day 24
Day 24

Nothing will keep them down

Verse: Acts 14:20, “But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.”

Devo: Perhaps you have caught a theme by now. God has called people to carry on the message of the Gospel. These people do just that, but many try and stop them. At times it seems as though God’s message will be stopped, but God always comes through. Nothing will stop the Gospel’s message, and there is nothing that will stop God’s church from growing. No matter what it may look like or things seem hopeless, there is nothing to worry about. God is in control, and his word will always prevail.

Thought: Who can you share the Gospel with today?

Prayer: Lord God, help your word to persevere and help me never get in the way. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 14:19-28

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Day 25 | Conflict
Day 25 | Conflict

Conflict

Verse: Acts 15:39, “And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other.”

Devo: Does anyone really like conflict? I would imagine the answer to that is no. Unfortunately, no one is immune to conflict, the church included. The central conflict within the church has to do with the Genitals. There are those within the church who think the Genitals must follow all the laws of Moses and others who do not. This makes for some challenging times in the early church, but there was a plan. The church appoints Elders, respected men to gather and engage in conversation, debate, and prayer. After a while, they come to a scripturally based agreement, and the decision that was made was met with joy and great relief. What can we as a church today learn from the church of Acts?

Thought: How do you handle conflict with others? Are there ways you can improve?

Prayer: Lord God, help me deal with conflict in a pleasing way to you. Lord, help me to listen more, understand, and come at everything from a position of love. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 15

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Day 26 | The Holy Spirit
Day 26 | The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

Acts 16:14, “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”

Lydia’s story has always fascinated me, and it’s a story in Acts that points to the things that God does and the Holy Spirit. It is tempting for us to take control; we like having power over something. This quest for power makes it hard for people to realize that God, through the Holy Spirit, is the One who does the work when it comes to following Jesus. You hear people say, “I decided to follow Jesus,” but the story of Lydia, the story of Paul’s conversion, and how the disciples were called does not support that. Picture this, God standing outside the door of your heart knocking, wanting to get in. In this scenario, who has the power or control? You do. You are the One who gets to make the decision. When it comes to God, there is never a scenario where we have power over Him. God, through the Holy Spirit, calls, we follow.

Is it hard not to have power or control over something?

Lord, thank you for calling me to follow you. Help me keep my eyes on you in all situations and have a heart pleasing to you, Amen.

Additional Reading: Acts 16:1-15

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Day 27 | Even the Demons Know His Name
Day 27 | Even the Demons Know His Name

Even the Demons Know His Name

Verse: Acts 16:16-17, “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

Devo: I always found it fascinating the idea that even the demons knew the name and work of Jesus. You read in the Gospels of the demons crying out to Jesus and not only knowing his name but knowing what he was sent to earth to do. We see that in our Acts reading for the day. A demon-possessed girl calls out to Paul and Silas and tries to get them in trouble (and it happens). But there are many other ways she could have done that, like telling lies or making claims about the two men, but she names God and says they are telling people about the way of salvation. Paul later calls the demon out of her saving her from it. Many people have heard the name of Jesus but would instead make fun of it or call it false. But it makes you think when you hear the phrase, “Even the demons knew His name.”

Thought: What does the phrase “even the demons knew His name” say to you?

Prayer: Jesus, help me to know your name. When others speak ill of your name, please help me to stand up and speak your name in truth. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 16:16-40

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Day 28 | Turning the World Upside down
Day 28 | Turning the World Upside down

Turning the World Upside down

Verse: Acts 17:6b, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”

On one of the morning shows on local TV the other day, the hosts interviewed someone from the secular world. The person said nothing that surprised me, but when he began telling the church how to do things, I started thinking. He said the church needed to reevaluate some of its teachings because the secular world didn’t align and has a different message. I paused for a moment and thought to myself, the church must be doing something right if someone who represents the secular world doesn’t like what the church is doing. The church of Jesus Christ is meant to turn the world upside down. It is not meant to look like the world around it but something completely different. The same world that is trying to tell the church what to do is the same world that tried to kill Jesus all those many years ago. Christianity does invert the ways of this world.

How can you be set apart from the world and be a beacon of light in a dark world?

Pray: Lord, help me to live as you have called me to live, being light in the darkness. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 17:1-15

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Day 29 | Idols
Day 29 | Idols

Idols

Verse: acts 17:16, “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.”

Devotion: What are some of the idols in your life? You know those things that get in the way of your relationship with God? Some may be very easy to see. You were catching that extra 15 mins of sleep instead of doing devotions in the morning, picking up an extra shift on a Sunday morning instead of going to worship. Others may be harder to see or appear like good things, like; love, success, culture, or religion (crazy to think about, but religion can become an idol). An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give. Focus on your relationship with God and the grace that he freely gives to you. Make that your focus and everything else will fall into place. 

Question: What are the idols in your life getting in the way of God?

Prayer: Lord, help me to see the things in my life that are getting in the way of my relationship with you. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 17:16-34

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Day 30 | Not all will believe
Day 30 | Not all will believe

Not all will believe

Verse: Acts 18:6, “And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles.”

Devotion: Do you ever get frustrated? Who am I kidding? Of course, you have at some point. We are all human, after all, and some things upset us. If you are a sports fan, like me, you may experience frustration far too often. When you follow Paul through the book of Acts, you notice that he becomes frustrated from time to time. Why? Well, because at times, people won’t believe. Paul beautifully paints the Gospel picture, but sometimes people can’t see it. This may happen to you. There may be someone in your life that you have been sharing the gospel with, but they don’t seem to get it. Do not let your frustration get the best of you. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that changes our hearts. Continue sharing the gospel message with all you come in contact with. 

Question: Have you ever become frustrated with someone while sharing the gospel with them? What did you do? 

Prayer: Lord, help me always to remember it is the Holy Spirit who works through me to change the hearts of nonbelievers. Help me not to let my frustrations get in the way. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 18

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Day 31 | Acts of Repentance
Day 31 | Acts of Repentance

Acts of repentance

Acts 19:18, “Also many of those who were now believer came, confessing and divulging their practices.”

When one is a believer in Jesus, it is essential to toss away the old ways of life and embrace the new. What do we mean? Take our reading for the day. Many people who were no believers came confessing their sins and divulging their sinful practices. They rid their lives of their former sinful ways. It later says they burned their magic arts books. They got rid of the stuff in their lives that caused them to sin, the things that created great temptations. No matter how hard you try, you will never stop sinning, but that shouldn’t stop you from living a life that is pleasing to God. This may, of course, mean riding your life of something you have grown accustomed to, but if it causes you to sin, toss it out. The temptation to sin is a dangerous thing, and we should always be aware of it.

 What is something in your life that is a great temptation? 

Lord, help me see the temptations in my life and help me rid my life of the things that cause me to sin against you. Amen

Additional Reading: Acts 19:1-20

 

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Day 32 | Suffer Unjustly
Day 32 | Suffer Unjustly

Suffer Unjustly

Acts 19:29, “So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel.”

Raise your hand if you like seasons of suffering. Anyone have their hands up? I would imagine no one enjoys going through seasons of suffering. There are many reasons why we suffer. It could be physical, emotional, mental. Maybe your job brings about suffering in your life; perhaps it’s a relationship. Perhaps the suffering you are experiencing has nothing to do with you but has been brought on because of someone else’s actions. What about your faith? Does your faith cause you to suffer? There are many examples in the bible of followers of Jesus experiencing troubles because of the Gospel. At times this is at no fault of their own but brought on by those who stand in opposition to the Gospel, and that is what is taking place in the reading for today. When you are going through a season of suffering, always remember Christ Jesus, who suffered for you, is always with you. Remember, too; God is at work in every situation. Remember to step back and see His hand at work.

Are you or someone you know in a season of suffering? Reach out to someone if you are struggling right now. You do not have to suffer alone.

Lord God, help me through my seasons of suffering. Bring me to the other side, and let me see your hand at work in everything. Amen.

Additional Reading: Acts 19:21-41

 

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Day 33 | Jesus is the Resurrection and the life
Day 33 | Jesus is the Resurrection and the life

Jesus is the Resurrection and the life

Verse: Acts 20:9, “And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.”

Devotion: I want to encourage you to read the additional reading for today. It is a fascinating story and a preacher’s worst nightmare. Paul is preaching/talking with a group of people and does so for so long that a man named Eutychus falls asleep, falls out a window, and dies. No one who is preaching the Gospel wants to put people to sleep, and they defiantly don’t want someone to fall out a window to their death. As interesting as the story is, the main point is this: if one believes in Jesus, they will never die. Jesus says in John 11:25-26, “I am the Resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” When we lose someone in our life, it is never easy, death is hard on the living, but we must trust in the promises of Jesus and God’s power. That by believing in Jesus, we will indeed never die, that God has the ability to make us alive again.

 

Question: If you have lost a loved one in your life, what was something that provided you with comfort and peace that you could share with someone else?

 

Prayer: God, help me to always trust in you and to trust in your power. Thank you for sending your Son into the world to be our Resurrection and Life. Amen.

 

Additional Reading: Acts 20:1-16

 

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Day 34 | Humility
Day 34 | Humility

Humility

 

Verse: Acts 20:19, “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews.”

 

Devotion: “What the world needs now is humility, sweet humility.” I know I know those are not the right words to the song (though the world needs love too). It’s true, though; we need more humility in our world. Humility is placing less of an importance on yourself and higher importance on those you serve. It is serving the least among you, not to receive accolades or thanks, but for reasons that have nothing to do with you. The world around us is making it really hard to be humble. It is quick to point out the failures of others and quick to point to the greatness of the self. “Well, we had to do it this way because of how bad so and so did it. Just look at what we’ve accomplished.” Sorry to say it, but that’s not humility. It is not easy to be a humble servant, but we are called to do it, and no one said anything about Christianity being easy. Follow the examples of Jesus and the words of Paul as you seek better understanding in humility. The most important thing to remember is you believe in a Savior who humbled himself before all humility to exalt it. He lowered Himself to raise you up. He died so you could live. 

 

Question: How can you live as a humble servant? 

 

Prayer: Lord, help me to have a true servant’s heart, putting the needs of others ahead of the needs of myself. Amen

 

Additional Reading: Acts 20:17-38

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Day 35 | Mob Mentality
Day 35 | Mob Mentality

Mob mentality

Verse: Acts 21:30, “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.”

Devotion: Have you ever been at an amusement park or something like it and you find yourself following the crowd? Maybe you are there and you’re not sure where to go so you just get in the first line only to find out it was for the Falafel stand and not the new fancy ride you came for. The power of a crowd is amazing and that is what Paul is experiencing here and it’s what Jesus experienced when he was on trial. It is easy for to judge from the sideline and be appalled by the actions of Paul’s enemies in our reading and the enemies of Jesus yet me may jump to similar unfounded conclusions. It is important for us to follow Jesus. You know, The Way and The Truth and The Life, and not follow the crowds. You know the things that seem popular, or what everyone else is telling you what to do. Don’t do something just because the crowd is doing it. You may end up in the wrong line.

 

Question: Is it hard to follow Jesus when it seems everyone around you is doing something else?

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to listen to your voice and only your voice. Teach me to follow you and not the crowds. Amen

 

Additional Reading: Acts 21:1-36

 

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Day 36 | What's your story?
Day 36 |  What's your story?

What’s your story?

Verse: Acts 21:39, “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.”

Devotion: I encourage you to read the additional reading for the day. In it, you will see Paul wanting to speak to the people. Paul tells them his story, his story of how he got to where it is today. His story of conversion and how Jesus has worked in and through him. What is your story? Where has life taken you? How has God worked in and through you? No matter what your faith story is, it is important, and it is a testament to what God has done, is doing, and will do in your life. Don’t be afraid to share your story with others. You never know the impact the words of your story could have on the life of another. Know your story, share your story, and give thanks to God for the faith that he has given to you.

Question: What is your faith story?

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for working in and through me. Continue to shape me and use me for your greater purpose. Amen.

Additional Reading: Acts 21:37-22:29

 

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Day 37 | Take Courage
Day 37 | Take Courage

Take Courage!

 

Acts 23:11 “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

It would take a LOT of courage!  Just the day before, Paul was almost killed by a mob of his own people, then taken into custody by Roman soldiers and ordered to be stretched out and flogged to “beat the truth out of him”!  And all this because Paul spoke the truth about Jesus.  Fortunately, Paul had the “trump card” of being a Roman citizen which not only prevented the flogging, but even got him released from prison!  However, he was brought before the Supreme Court of his day, greatly insulted and aggressively attacked which led to another great uproar (see v.10 just before our text – “afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them!”).  But Jesus was with Paul and revealed to him that he would go on to testify about Jesus in Rome.  I pray that nothing like this will ever happen in our day – but the possibility is becoming more and more of a reality as special interest groups are becoming more angry and more violent.  Jesus says to us, “Take courage. I am with you.”  In trying times, Jesus doesn’t promise to rescue us from physical harm, as He did for Paul at this time, but Jesus always promises to be with us and bless us beyond our understanding!

When might you need this special reminder of Jesus’ courage for you?

 

Prayer: Wow, Jesus, what protection You provided for Paul, at that time, and what protection You continue to promise to us today. Help us live courageous lives for You and the truth of Your Word in our lives. Amen.

 

Additional Reading: Acts 22:30- 23:35

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Day 38 | Being Cut Off
Day 38 | Being Cut Off

Being Cut off

 

Verse: Acts 24:27, “When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.”

 

Devotion: Paul has been in and out of custody for a good chunk of his ministry. Now we learn that he has been in prison for two years. Can you imagine being in prison for two years? I can’t. Being cut off from the rest of the world for that long seems somewhat hard. His friends could see him, which was a blessing but being cut off from the world around for that time, I can only imagine, would be rather tricky. We are not meant to be alone. We are meant to be with people. God made us creatures that desired to be with one another. The hard part for some is that they have been cut off from people around them because of circumstances outside their control. Look for people in your community who have been cut off from others. I am thinking of the older members or the shut-ins. Reach out to them, love them and be with them. No one wants to be alone. Sometimes that means that we as Christians have to take the extra step to make sure no one feels alone.

 

Question: Who is someone in your life whom you can reach out to who may feel cut off from the community?

 

Prayer:  Lord, help me to reach out to those who feel cut off. Help me to show them that they are loved and still part of the community. Amen

 

Additional Reading: Acts 24

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