Eyewitness News

Scripture Focus: Acts 13.29-31
29 When they had carried out all that was written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead, 31 and for many days He was seen by those who had accompanied Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now His witnesses to our people.

Reflection: Eyewitness News
By Rev. John Paul Davis

Whenever I hear the word “eyewitness,” I am immediately reminded of a television newsman, Marvin Zindler. Mr. Zindler was known for his personal investigations and his sign-off statement, “Marvin Zindler, Eyewitness news!”

Likewise, Luke and Acts are eyewitness accounts of Jesus’s ministry and Luke’s own eyewitness account. Luke is an “eyewitness” investigative reporter and his journalistic approach gives the believer accurate and factual documentation of how Jesus’ Kingdom of God ministry eventually evolved into the religion we know today as Christianity.

The book of Acts provides us with hope and encouragement upon which Christians today can build their faith. We too can commit to actions that embody Jesus’s Great Commission (Matthew 28.16-20).

In Acts chapter 13, Luke gives an eyewitness account of how the early apostles had to overcome many trials and tribulations to fulfill the Great Commission. Prior to verses 29 through 31, Luke records how Paul stands boldly and courageously before the synagogue leaders in Jerusalem and professes Jesus as the fulfillment of “The Law and The Prophets,” foretold in ancient Hebrew scriptures. Nevertheless, contrary to their initial intrigue and acceptance, these Jewish leaders eventually turned against Paul and the apostles, thus beginning Paul’s church planting ministry among the Gentiles.

Today, we can stand on the fact that Luke puts his stamp of approval on this eyewitness account of the acts of the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1.1-4). Because of this, we stand boldly and courageously before a postmodern world and profess the same message as the early apostles. “Jesus rose from the dead and lives even today as the risen savior of the world!”

Two millennia have passed since events described in the book of Acts, and yet the truth of the acts of the Holy Spirit and the apostles is still transforming lives today.  Pray and meditate on God’s word today, remembering the same Holy Spirit that resided in the apostles, resides in us through Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, bless us as we embrace your calling to be doers of your word. Remind us that, “they can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.”(Philippians 4.13).

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us saying: “I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.” — John 13.34-35

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 55 (Listen – 2:11)
Acts 13 (Listen – 7:36)

Read more about Paul’s First Sermon  
Whenever you encounter a sermon in Scripture, one way to approach it is to take notes as if you were hearing it.

Paul’s First Sermon

Acts 13.15
“Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”

Reflection: Paul’s First Sermon
By John Tillman

Scripture takes many forms. Poems, songs, dialogue, histories, genealogies, visions, and even sermons are recorded in God’s Word. Responding to each as it is intended is a valuable spiritual practice. Whenever you encounter a sermon in Scripture, one way to approach it is to take notes as if you were hearing it along with the listeners.

Today, we encounter Paul’s first recorded sermon and take some notes to reflect on.

Paul’s sermon is in response to a call for exhortation. The word Luke uses, paráklēsis, can imply an entreaty for help and is often translated as “comfort” (Luke 2.25; 6.24; Acts 4.36).

Paul’s message is one of comfort but also a call to action; encouragement but also an energizing challenge.
Paul’s message is for Jews and Gentiles—for all who worship God.

God chose the Jews from among the nations.

  • He showed his goodness in blessing them.
  • He showed his power in saving them.
  • He showed his mercy in bearing with and forgiving their sins and weaknesses.
  • He showed his faithfulness in fulfilling his promises to them.

David was chosen from among them.

  • He was a man God chose to bless.
  • He was a man God used to display his power.
  • He was a man to whom God showed mercy for his sins and weaknesses.
  • He was a man through whom God chose to fulfill a greater promise.

Jesus came from David.

  • As promised by God.
  • As prophesied by prophets throughout Israel’s history.
  • As proclaimed publically by the prophet, John the Baptist.

Jesus completed God’s promised salvation.

  • Through his fulfillment of Scripture.
  • Through his submission to death.
  • Through his physical resurrection.

Through his fulfillment of Scripture, his submission to death, and his physical resurrection, Jesus has made manifest God’s promises of forgiveness and salvation.

The offer of salvation is real.

  • Salvation is a work done by God.
  • Salvation can be ignored.
  • Salvation can be accepted.

The implications of Paul’s sermon:

  • We are chosen by God like Israel, like David, like Paul.
  • God has demonstrated his power in us through Christ’s resurrection and our salvation.
  • God bears with our weakness and sin, forgiving us.
  • God carries his appeal to the world through us.

We, like Paul, are responsible to respond to the world’s need for paráklēsis— for encouragement, comfort, and exhortation.  
We must say as Paul did, “Therefore, my friends…the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Know this, the Lord himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. — Psalm 100.2

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Judges 9 (Listen – 8:22)
Acts 13 (Listen – 7:36)

Today’s Readings
Judges 10-11.11 (Listen – 2:18) Acts 14 (Listen – 3:54)
Judges 11.12-40 (Listen – 5:53) Acts 15 (Listen – 5:43)

Thank You!
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Read more about Setting Aside the Scriptures
Considering all of Scripture together without breaking it apart requires patience and a deep familiarity with Scripture.

Read more about When We Fast From The Feast
Our culture has steadily, for decades, been encouraging us to abstain from spiritual disciplines in favor of activities that we are led to believe are more profitable.

Readers’ Choice Submissions

It has been so good to hear from many of you about posts for Readers’ Choice, but we still have some room in August for your input.

Share with our community about the post or posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

For any questions contact John Tillman at john@theparkforum.org