Devotional for Worship Series
Acts: The Church on a Mission
NOTE: Please use the devotional studies below to help you prepare for the upcoming weekend worship services.
Click on the Bible verses to read from BibleGateway
“Paul’s Conversion & Baptism October 14-20
Read Acts 9:1-22
- After conversion, the first requirement of a disciple of Jesus Christ is that he or she be willing to serve Him and go to whatever lengths the Lord has in mind to be His witness. Often it means humbling that person first, in some way, causing them to have to depend upon God for blessing. Read Acts 9:1-8. How did God get Saul’s attention and convince him to serve as a witness to Jesus?
- God continued to work this way throughout Paul’s life. Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. Verse 9 is the key. Why did God allow Paul to suffer greatly in his life for the sake of the Gospel? What important lesson did he learn through suffering? Now read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. What forms of suffering have you experienced that God may now want you to share with others to bring them hope in Christ? How did God help you or carry you through that suffering? Who do you know that needs to know that God will help them through similar trials?
- Read Acts 9:10-18. Why was Ananias afraid to go and find Saul? Have you ever felt afraid to share your faith with someone else? If so, why? If God has placed a concern for someone spiritually on your heart, how does this account of Ananias’ obedience, in spite of his great fear, inspire you to seize the moment and to follow through with sharing your faith with the person?
- Read Acts 9:19-22. What did Saul do immediately after his blindness was miraculously healed and he had been baptized? He had a story to tell about how real Jesus is. Is there someone that you know who needs to hear the same thing? You don’t need to have memorized every detail of Christian doctrine. What people want and need to hear is how the story of Jesus has really impacted your life.
“The Message: Christ Alone” October 21-27
Read Acts 15:1-35
- Read Acts 15:1-5. As the preaching of the Gospel began to expand out from Israel, many non-Jewish people (Gentiles) were coming to faith in Christ Jesus. This created a doctrinal crisis for the Church. What was the issue? What action did the Gentile church, under the direction of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas, decide to take to resolve the problem.
- Read verses 6-11. As the Apostles and other spiritual leaders debated the issue, what truth (vss. 9, 11) became central to the discussion?
- Read verse 12. What contribution did Paul and Barnabas add to the discussion?
- Read verses 13-21. What was the decision of the Council that was led by James?
- Read verses 28-29. How did the Council understand God’s involvement in leading them to their decision?
- Read Ephesians 2:8-10. How does Paul say that we are saved? What is the role of our good works? With this in mind, why did the Council give the Gentiles directions on what they were to do? Read James 1:22-25 for further insight.
“Peter Visits Cornelius” October 6-12
- Another disciple, Peter, has an encounter with a Roman centurion. This was a man of great authority. What does Acts 10:2 say about Cornelius? How would you describe someone who fears God, helps the poor, and prays continually?
- Suddenly an angel appears to him and tells him to find Peter and gives him directions of where to find him. When he saw an angel, how did he react? Why would he be afraid?
- While Peter is with Simon the tanner, he went on to the roof to pray. What was his vision? Read Leviticus 11:31,40-43. Why are reptiles specifically mentioned? This dream is repeated three times- why? Why would this have been shocking for Peter?
- Cornelius’ men find Peter and bring him to Cornelius. Read Acts 10:28. What was Peter’s conclusion about his dream? What does Peter come to understand about the nature of God? What is God’s desire (vs. 34-36)?
- Although Cornelius was a follower of God, Peter shares with him about Jesus. Read 37-43. After explaining about who Jesus is and what He had done, what does he offer Cornelius in verse 43?
- How does Peter meeting with Cornelius, a Roman centurion who was in charge of 100 soldiers, fulfill Acts 1:8? What happens to the Gentiles that hear the Good News of Jesus?
“An Ethiopian Official Believes” September 29-October 5
Read Acts 8:26-40.
Earlier in Chapter 8, Philip was proclaiming the Gospel in Samaria and was having great success. He was casting out demons and healing people with all types of afflictions. Read Matthew 10:1-4. Read Acts 1:8. The Gospel was spreading and moving out from Jerusalem.
- Suddenly in verse 26, an angel of the Lord instructs Philip to go south to the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza. What kind of place was this (vs. 26)? How do you think this made Philip feel? He goes from proclaiming the Gospel and seeing results, to an empty desert!
- He meets a Ethiopian eunuch who is in charge of the Queen of Ethiopia's treasure. Read verse 27. What does it mean that he had come to Jerusalem to worship? The Eunuch was a man of considerable wealth to afford a scroll and an education to read.
- Philip catches up to the man and hears him reading the scroll of Isaiah (53:7-8), and asks him if he understands what he is reading? How does that passage describe Jesus?
- Philip shares with the man the Good News of Jesus and likely told him about Baptism as well. Having heard the Good News, what is the Eunuch’s response to what he has heard? How does this section fulfill the theme of the book of Acts, specifically Acts 1:8?
“Stoning of Stephen” September 22-28
Read Acts 6:8-7:60.
- As the Church begins to grow, a problem arises. Some of the Hellenist (Greek-speaking Jews) feel that their widows were being neglected. To settle this dispute, the disciples appoint 7 men to take on the task of making sure that everyone is treated equally. One of those men is Stephen. How is he described in Acts 7:5? Why did the disciples feel they could not do the task? What did they feel was their priority? Who ends up being converted by their proclaiming the Gospel? Why would this become a problem? (Acts 7:7)
- Stephen was performing miracles and proclaim the Good News of Jesus. They realize that they cannot argue with him. So what do they do? Read Mark 14:56-59. What is similar between Stephen’s situation and the situation Jesus was in?
- Stephen then launches into a sermon. He recounts all of Israel’s history, pointing out God’s blessings on the people. What is his point about God? What is Stephen’s point about the people of Israel (Acts 7:42-43)?
- Stephen points out the fault of the priests and scribes. Where were they putting their trust (Acts 7:44-53)? What does Stephen accuse them of? These people needed to be called out for their idolatry so that the Gospel could do it’s work.
- When they heard this, how did they react (Acts 7:54, 58)? How does Stephen react to his persecution? How does he proclaim the Gospel even in his death (Acts 7:60)? Who is a witness to His death? Who would this man become? Read Isaiah 55:11. What does it tell us about the power of God’s word?
“Peter Heals a Beggar” September 15-21
Read Acts 3:1-10.
Peter and John go to the temple to pray, and a lame man is being carried to a gate to beg. This would have been common. As people come and go, hopefully this lame man would make enough begging to sustain himself.
- What does this beggar request of Peter and John? What does he receive? What is the better gift: what he asked for or what he received? By what name is this miracle done?
- The man immediately enters the temple with Peter and John. What do you suppose would have been the reaction of the people in the temple? What kind of attention would this have drawn to Peter and John? Read Acts 4:1-4. How do the priests react to what the disciples had done and they were proclaiming? How did the crowd react to their message?
- After being arrested, the disciples are questioned about what happened. What do they have to say for themselves? Who was behind the healing (Acts 4:8-12)? How did Peter speak so boldly? Who gave him the words to say?
- The priests and scribes confer, and they cannot deny what happened. So what do they tell Peter and John (4:18)? How do the disciples respond? Read Acts 5:29. How do Peter and John clarify their statement under the threat of arrest again? Why does Luke tell us the age of the man who was healed? Why would this be important?
- After telling others what they had been instructed, what do they set their minds to do (Acts 4:27-31)? What are they filled with? Read Acts 2:2-4. How is this similar to the day of Pentecost? What does the coming of the Spirit allow them to do?
“The Holy Spirit Comes” September 9-14
- The Jewish community was gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks. This Feast was to celebrate the giving of the Law to Moses on Sinai which transformed the Jewish community. What does the Holy Spirit do? How is it similar to the very event that the Jews were celebrating?
- How does the speaking in various tongues (languages) by the disciples represent the goal Christ had given them in Acts 1:8?
- Peter, after rebuking the men that mocked the disciples in verses 14-15, gives a lengthy sermon. What is the law that these men needed to hear (read 22-24, 36)? What is their reaction to Peter’s convicting sermon (vs. 37)? What is Peter’s response?
- Why is important for us to hear both the Law and the Gospel? What are they suppose to do in our lives? How is the mission of God fulfilled by what happens on Pentecost (vs. 41)?
“The Mission Begins” September 2-8
Read Acts 1:1-11
Over the last two years we have walked through portions of the Old Testament and the Gospels. This year we move to the Epistles. An Epistle was a letter written to a Church or person, which is why the books are often called Epistle Letters.
The author of the Book of Acts or, sometimes called the Acts of the Apostles, is Luke. Luke is the same man that wrote the book of Luke which bears his name. Thus, his second letter picks up where his first, the Gospel of Luke, left off.
After his opening remarks to Theophilus (which many scholars debate who or what the meaning of that title means), Luke dives back into the story of the Ascension of Jesus.
- In Acts 1:6-11. Jesus is meeting with His disciples after He has risen from the dead. Read Luke 17:20, 19:11, 24:21. What was the hope of the disciples and the general crowd about the Messiah? What did they hope He was going to do? What did this mean about Israel’s place in the world?
- Jesus immediately dismisses their thoughts and turns His attention to the mission He was about to send them on. What does Jesus say they will receive in verse 8? When would this event occur? Read Luke 24:18-20. Luke records the last words of Jesus in both places, but this time gives the disciples a guide about how to go about it. Where should the mission begin? Where will it end?
- Jesus then ascends into heaven. The disciples stand around staring up into the sky. Read 1:10, When did they think Jesus was going to return? Read Luke 1:26-27, 2:8-14, 22:43, Matthew 28:2-7. Who appears? In all of these passages, what was their job?
- We are still working to fulfill the mission that Jesus gave the disciples. As one of my favorite authors and missionaries put it, “Every heart without Christ is a mission field; every heart with Christ is a missionary.” Think about your role… how are you sharing the Gospel with those around you?