Check out all the previous Acts readings here.
Acts Reading Plan | Week 16 | Day 1
As you come to spend time with Jesus, calm your mind and body until you feel fully present.
Psalm 113:2 says, “Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore.” Open your time with Jesus with a prayer of praise, thanking Him for His faithfulness to you in the past and trusting Him with your present.
Bible Reading: Acts 21:37 – 22:21
Read these verses three times slowly.
As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?”
“Do you speak Greek?” he replied. “Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the wilderness some time ago?”
Paul answered, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.”
After receiving the commander’s permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic: “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Councilcan themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
“‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
“‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
“A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
“Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’
“When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’
“‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”
Reflection & Questions
Today we pick up where we left off last week. Paul has arrived in Jerusalem and has been arrested and bound, and he is being taken to jail. On the way, as we read today, Paul strikes up a conversation with the commander and requests to be able to say something to the rioting crowd.
Amazingly, Paul has the presence of mind and courage, to seize this opportunity to share his testimony; to share how he came to know Jesus. It might seem a strange time to share his testimony, but to individuals in the crowd who were soft in heart, they would have heard a powerful testimony. Sometimes the most effective times of us sharing our faith is when we are in crisis – maybe it’s to a doctor when we’ve got a bad diagnosis or to a boss when he has to lay us off. How powerful a testimony it is to share our trust in God when the going gets tough.
We have heard Paul’s testimony earlier in Acts, but one line in Paul’s recalling of it is worth bringing attention to. Annanias says to Paul: “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’” What are you waiting for? Paul’s next step was being baptized! What’s your next step in following Jesus? If you know it, what are you waiting for?
- What is a tough situation you are in that might be an opportunity to witness to others about God’s faithfulness to you?
- What’s your next step in following Jesus? What could you do today to take it?
Pray in response to today’s reading.
You might use this song today to worship Jesus today:
Check out more Bible Reading Plans here.