17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
Day 1: Loving God
The gospel demands a response. If we let our hearts grow dull and close our eyes to the good news of Jesus, we cannot be saved (v. 27). Merely hearing is not enough, there must be understanding and belief. Similarly, even after coming to faith in Jesus, we must “take care … lest there be in any of [us] an evil, unbelieving heart, leading [us] to fall away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). We must “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (Jas. 1:22).
Confess the ways in which you have been a hearer who forgets, rather than a doer who acts.
Pray that God would fill you with Holy Spirit, and help you to take Him at His Word and obey.
Give thanks specifically to God for all that He has done for you in Christ.
Day 2: Loving One Another
Verse 30 says, “[Paul] lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him.” “All” means Jews and Gentiles, Romans and barbarians, men and women, young and old, slaves and free, rich and poor, pretty and ugly, strong and weak, influential and marginalized, criminals and victims, history makers and history’s forgettables, if they repent of their sins and believe in Jesus, they will all be saved! Paul cannot turn anyone away, but must welcome all who come to him, because that’s what his Lord Jesus does. Jesus said in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” If the Master Himself invites a person in, what servant can turn him away?
Pray that God would help you to love all the members of the church, especially those for whom you don’t have a natural affinity.
Pray that God would humble the prideful, encourage the disheartened, strengthen the weak, wake up the idle/slothful, and comfort those who wallow in guilt and shame.
Pray for humility and unity in our church.
Pray that God would raise up more pastoral interns and keep the elders of the church in the pattern of Christ’s humility, servant-leadership, courage, gentleness, and love.
Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
In one of the letters he wrote during his captivity in Rome, Paul says this, in Ephesians 6:18-20, “To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Declaring the gospel boldly requires the faithful intercession of fellow believers.
Luke concludes the Book of Acts with Paul “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” In the end, the focus is not on Paul, but on the message of Jesus that he proclaimed. The most pertinent question for Luke was not, “What happened to Paul?” But “What happened to the gospel?” And the answer is this: the gospel continued to go forward. In 60 years, most of us will no longer be alive and we will be mostly forgotten, but will the gospel continue to go forward in the lives of those around us? Will the name of Jesus continue to be exalted in the lives of those around us?
Pray that God would give our church members “words … in opening [their] mouth boldly to proclaim the … gospel” (Eph. 6:19)
Pray that we would remember that we are “ambassadors” of the Kingdom of God, and that the sharing the gospel with unbelievers would be a weekly occurrence among our members, and baptisms a frequent, even monthly, occurrence.
Pray by name for your unbelieving family members, friends, and neighbors.
Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with some of them this week, and ask God for ideas of how you might approach them and create more opportunities.
Pray for spiritual and physical protection for Mattea, that she would serve with the assurance of the Father’s love, find good avenues for rest, and that she would learn the language quickly and work well with her teammates.