28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 13
WEEK 13 - ACTS 13 - November 5, 2018
Written by Rev. Dr. Carol Cook Moore, senior pastor, Alva United Methodist Church; chairperson, Board of Ordained Ministry; dean, Bi-Vocational Pastor's Academy.
Luke’s writing presents us with 2 questions. The first question comes as we read the beginning of the chapter as Paul and Barnabas are called forth to go on what is eventually named “Paul’s First Missionary Journey.” The “tweet” from the Holy Spirit simply says, “set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Verse 2). Saul and Barnabas were not strategizing on their own. They were in a community of believers, praying, fasting, and singing. They were waiting. They were listening. No one stood up and said – “I think thus and so…”. They were present to the movement of the Holy Spirit. That is how they traveled—present, listening, and following. The first question: what do you hear the Holy Spirit asking you to do as you worship in community, as you fast, as you pray and worship? Is there a mission field set before you or are you one who will stay at “home base” to continue to pray for those who are sent out?
Paul and Barnabas travel to places where the gospel is needed. They travel on to Antioch of Pisidia and there Paul retells the story of God’s work through the ancestors, culminating in the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you were a Gentile, it was a home run sermon. If you were a Jew, it was a reason to gather the crowd to run them out of town. In this early church conflict, the truth of the gospel does not change. This is that truth: “Let it be known to you my bothers [and sisters] that through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; by this Jesus, everyone who believes is set free from all those sins’ from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” (Verses 38-39)
Everyone. Now if you were always outside of the law, then this was an invitation to the table. If you were a law upholder, this was an affront. But here is the real pickle: for either side to fully embrace the gift of salvation, they were going to have to sit together at the Lord’s table. The gospel does not uphold our protests when we want to withhold the gospel from those we deem unworthy. Nor does the gospel give us permission to haughtily gloat when God’s mercy rules God’s judgement. The second question: what do you need to be set free from to receive the forgiveness that Jesus brings to you this day? It is only when we can receive this grace that we will be able to offer it to the one we have named “other.”
At the end of the chapter, Paul and Barnabas are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. They were listening. May we listen and follow, in Jesus name.
Suggested reading schedule
• Monday - Acts 13:1-3
• Tuesday - Acts 13:4-12
• Wednesday - Acts 13:13-25
• Thursday - Acts 13:26-34
• Friday - Acts 13:35-41
• Saturday - Acts 13:42-47
• Sunday - Acts 13:48-52
Reflection question: What does it look like in your context to trust in the power of the Holy Spirit, to listen and to follow?
Prayer focus: The children who are learning hate and those who are targeted.
Oklahoma Conference Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members, chaired by Rev. Mike Mahaffey.
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