True Power

Scripture Focus: Acts 14.7
…where they continued to preach the gospel.

Reflection: True Power
By L.E. Mulford

Today’s reading begins with Paul and Barnabas fleeing to surrounding cities after hearing of a plot to stone them. BUT they continued to preach the gospel!

The first sign of trouble was when some Jews refused to believe. Not only did they simply not believe, we read that they refused to believe. These Jews didn’t stop there; they poisoned the minds of the believers. They were so desperate to overpower the message of the gospel that they coordinated with Gentiles to do so. For a Jew to cooperate with a non-Jew was something of a miracle itself. In their minds, the ends justified the means. They linked themselves with impure people to attack and kill Jesus’ followers. But even under threats of death, Paul and Barnabas continued to preach the gospel.

And the crowds were still confused even after God allowed signs and miracles. It’s similar to Elijah in 1 Kings 18.16-45. The Jews were wavering between two opinions. Just as God demonstrated his power then, he demonstrated his power here. But where Elijah left in fear, Paul and Barnabas left in power and continued to preach the gospel.

That’s the real power and the purpose of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. Not the signs and wonders but rather bearing witness. You can know God. You can have a relationship with Him. You can have the right lineage. But without the Holy Spirit you won’t have the power that Jesus mentioned in Acts 1.8. This is that power! That power to continue even when your life’s on the line and everything seems bleak. Even when they felt they could do no more at Iconium, they left and were still empowered by the Holy Spirit and continued to preach the gospel.

This power didn’t come from themselves. It came from a reliance on the Spirit. How are you relying on the Spirit? How are you relying on yourself? Sometimes we don’t realize we are relying on ourselves. Some outward signs look good, but can mask inward selfishness and self-reliance. These might be believing the right doctrine, attending the right church, or having the right friends. But God wants more for us! He wants us to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us so we can be his witness and, no matter what, continue to preach the gospel.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
When Jesus spoke to the people again, he said: “I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark; but will have the light of life.” — John 8.12

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 56 (Listen – 2:11)
Acts 14 (Listen – 3:54)

Read more about Breath, Reconsidered
Breath sustains symphonies
Breath extinguishes candles
Breath ignites embers
Breath powers prophets

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