Christian Devotions

Focus verses: Acts 13:14-52

Today’s reading details the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas. These verses recount the first recorded sermon of Paul. You will notice that it closely parallels the first sermon of Peter from the second chapter of Acts.

God’s faithfulness to His people is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. The story of our redemption never changes.

Evangelizing is not hard. One simply tells the truth. You will notice that both sermons relate the history of God with the nation of Israel. Both quote Jewish scriptures prophetic of Jesus. Both sermons are laid out in a simple order. Both culminate in proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.

But evangelizing is sometimes unpopular with the established religious institutions. Peter was taken before the Sanhedrin and cautioned to quit teaching about Jesus. Paul was expelled from the region where he was preaching because he shared the good news with the Gentiles since the Jews rejected the inclusiveness of his teaching.

Institutions seem to prefer indoctrination to evangelization.

Indoctrination says “this is what we do and this is why we do it. It’s always been this way.”

Evangelization says “this is what Jesus did for us. We can do nothing to add to His sacrifice. We can only believe.”

Notice the difference in emphasis. Indoctrination is all about us and what we do. Evangelization is all about Jesus and what He has done.

The simple truth is that Jesus paid it all. He paid the ransom for all of us – each one of us individually. From the most innocent child to the most heinous criminal, each of us has an advocate with the Father. He doesn’t try to claim our innocence because we are guilty. He simply says “I paid the price.”

Nothing we can do will earn us heaven. Jesus bought it for us and gave it to us as a gift. We need only to receive Him and that gift into our lives by faith. That is the simple story we can tell others.

Father, God,

So fill our hearts with this simple story that we cannot remain silent about Your magnificent gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Give us the wisdom to speak gently, but firmly, when others are ready to hear.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.
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