28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 16
WEEK 16 - ACTS 16 - November 26, 2018
Written by Dr. Earl Mitchell, member, Stillwater: Highland Park UMC; member, Annual Conference Council; Jurisdictional Conference delegate
Chapter 16 of Acts is the story of the travels and tribulations of Paul, in his second missionary journey, to see how the churches he founded five years earlier had progressed. There are many components of these travels, namely hospitality and conversion of Lydia, removing demons, beaten and imprisoned and the conversion of the jailer who was about to take his life.
The early issue and perhaps a major theme is how do we deal with closed doors or how do we know what needs to be done? Having been forbidden from speaking the Word to Asia, Paul was in a quandary, not knowing what to do. There are many ways the “Holy Spirit “speaks to us. Sometimes we just know that some things are not right, you have an uneasy feeling, or you don’t know whether you should do something, you wrestle with the problem and then suddenly a clear message is delivered to you. In this case, Paul was given a message in a dream.
I remember when I was engaged in deep research and many times, I would have dreams on experiments. I usually kept a pad by my bedside to write down some of the ideas. So, it is well understood how such a problem that Paul had encountered could be solved in a dream.
Paul and Silas focused on God rather than on themselves and their suffering. Unfortunately, we sometimes focus on ourselves and our feelings about issues rather than focusing on the hospitality and conversions shown to Paul and the faith Paul showed when times were difficult. One of the most important components in evangelism is encountering God through prayer. This, Paul did very well. Such that at his lowest moment he was able to show the strength in prayer.
I am reminded about the Moravians who were in deep prayer when John Wesley traveled to the new world and encountered a storm. He mentioned how calm these Moravians were during the storm.
Perhaps the central message in Chapter 16 is the intentional focus on the missionary work, of witnessing and making disciples and not be side tracked by tangents - although they are important and have a personal impact on one’s environment. Paul never wavered from having his relationship with God, and he remained focus on the task.
The General Conference is taking a second trip, as Paul did. We have the same challenge to be the church and to focus on the mission at hand – making disciples for the transformation of the world. Like Paul, we have tangents and personal encounters that allow us to lose focus, but like Paul we should not waver from the task at hand.
Suggested reading schedule
• Monday - Acts 16
• Tuesday - Acts 16:1-5
• Wednesday - Acts 16:6-10
• Thursday - Acts 16:11-15
• Friday - Acts 16:16-24
• Saturday - Acts 16:25-34
• Sunday - Acts 16:35-40
Reflection question: In what ways might we, like Paul, engage in deep prayer regarding General Conference 2019? What tangents side-track making disciples in your local church?
Prayer focus: Churches of the Northern Prairie District (https://www.okumc.org/northernprairie), DS Tish Malloy and DA Diane Bull
If you wish to contact the delegation via email the address is firstname.lastname@example.org