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Stephen is Martyred

Learn More about Stephen

The third sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 6:8-7:60 (specifically Acts 7:1-53).

Setting: Jerusalem, before the Sanhedrin (the ruling Jewish council)

Speaker: Stephen

Audience: Jewish leaders (members of the Sanhedrin)

Preceding Events: Stephen supernaturally does many miracles and amazing things. The opposition stirs up trouble, has him arrested, and persuades others to lie about him.

Overall Theme: Stephen gives a concise historical overview from Abraham up to Jesus. Throughout this history, God is at work.

Scripture Quoted: Exodus 2:14, Exodus 3:6, Exodus 3:5,7-8,10, Deuteronomy 18:15, Exodus 32:1, Amos 5:25-27, Isaiah 66:1-2

Central Teaching: The Jewish people miss seeing God at work, resist the Holy Spirit, and reject Jesus, just as they did the prophets before him.

Subsequent Events: Stephen is Martyred, brutally killed by a mob.

Being bold for Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit does not always guarantee our safety or a happy outcome.

In Stephen’s case, his words to tell others about Jesus don’t have the desired impact of them deciding to follow Jesus. Though the crowd is motivated by his message, they have the opposite reaction and instead kill the messenger, literally.

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #2 or sermon #4.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Peter Speaks at Pentecost

Pete’s Powerful Sermon

The first sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 2:1-41 (specifically Acts 2:14-36).

Setting: Jerusalem on Pentecost

Speaker: Peter

Audience: Jews from many nations

Preceding Events: The Holy Spirit arrives and empowers the disciples to speak in other languages. Unable to comprehend what is happening, some in the crowd conclude that the disciples are drunk. (This may be the original source for the phrase “drunk on the Holy Spirit.”)

Overall Theme: Jesus died but is alive again—and he is Lord

Scripture Quoted: Joel 2:28-32, Psalm 16:8-11, Psalm 110:1

Central Teaching: Repent (change your ways) and be baptized

Subsequent Events: 3,000 respond

Key Lesson: Through the Holy Spirit, amazing things can happen that go far beyond man’s capabilities to accomplish on his own.

Jesus died but is alive again—and he is Lord. Click To Tweet

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #2.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Peter Heals a Lame Man

Peter Preaches and Then Heals a Listener

The second sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 3:1-4:4 (specifically, Acts 3:12-26). After he speaks, Peter heals a lame man.

Setting: Jerusalem, in the temple

Speaker: Peter

Audience: Jews

Preceding Events: Peter, through the power of Jesus, heals a lame man who was crippled from birth.

Overall Theme: Jesus, God’s servant, was foretold in the Old Testament. His execution at the hands of ignorant people was part of God’s plan, as was his rising from the dead.

Scripture Quoted: Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, 19, Genesis 22:18; 26:4

Central Teaching: Jesus’ name has the power to heal.

Subsequent Events: Peter is interrupted by the temple guards and he and John are thrown in prison, yet thousands more believe in Jesus.

A miraculous healing provides an opportunity for truth about Jesus to be shared, which results in mass conversions. Click To Tweet

Key Lesson: A miraculous healing provides an opportunity for truth about Jesus to be shared, which results in mass conversions.

If, at church, you saw a wheelchair-bound man get up and walk, what would you think?

Should healing others in Jesus’s name be a normal occurrence? Consider how the biblical account can better inform our perspectives, expectations, and actions today.

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #1 or sermon #3.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Peter Speaks to the Gentiles

Peter’s Message to the Gentiles

The fourth sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 10:23-48 (specifically Acts 10:34-43)

Setting: Caesarea

Speaker: Peter

Audience: Cornelius, his family, and close friends—all Gentiles (that is, non-Jews)

Preceding Events: Through a dream, God tells Peter to go to Cornelius’s house.

Overall Theme: God makes no distinction between people; traditional barriers have been broken, everyone can come to Jesus.

Scripture Quoted: none (as a non-Jewish audience, citing the Bible would not likely have been helpful to those listening)

Central Teaching: God shows no favoritism.

Subsequent Events: When Paul says “everyone who believes in him…,” his message is interrupted by the Holy Spirit, who comes upon the Gentiles who have just believed.

Key Lesson: Don’t allow our past or perceptions to dictate who we interact with; Jesus is for everyone.

Peter had to set aside his traditions and the law of Moses to do what God told him.

How often do our expectations, customs, and practices get in the way of us doing what God wants us to do? Do our unexamined perspectives block us from seeing things as God sees things?

May we do all we can to remove our blinders and accomplish God’s will.

Don’t allow our past or perceptions to dictate who we interact with. Click To Tweet

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #3 or sermon #5.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Be Ready to Speak

Paul’s First Sermon

The fifth sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 13:13-52 (specifically, Acts 13:16-41 & 46-47)

Setting: The synagogue in Antioch

Speaker: Paul

Audience: Jews and God-fearing Gentiles (likely converts to Judaism)

Preceding Events: Paul is merely present at the Sabbath service and invited to speak

Overall Theme: Paul connects the life of Jesus with the Old Testament teaching and prophecies.

Scripture Quoted: Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 55:3, Psalm 16:10, Habakkuk 1:5, Isaiah 49:6

Central Teaching: The news about Jesus is for all people (both Jews and Gentiles).

Subsequent Events: Paul and his companions are invited back, but opposition mounts against them and they are driven away. Nevertheless, their message spreads throughout the region.

Be ready to speak of Jesus when the opportunity is presented—and ready to leave when it is withdrawn. Click To Tweet

Key Lesson: Be ready to speak of Jesus when the opportunity is presented—and ready to leave when the opportunity to speak is withdrawn.

We must be vigilant and ready to act or speak when God provides an opening for us. If we’re not, we may lose the opportunity to do so. If we delay, the door may shut, and it will be too late to reopen it.

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #4 or sermon #6.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Paul Cleverly Connects with the People of Athens

Paul Preaches in Athens

The sixth sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 17:16-34 (specifically Acts 17:22-31). This one is to the people of Athens.

Setting: In Athens, a meeting at the Areopagus

Speaker: Paul

Audience: The people of Athens (non-Jews)

Preceding Events: The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, who were debating with Paul about his teaching, took him to a meeting at the Areopagus.

Overall Theme: We are offspring of the creator-God.

Scripture Quoted: Paul did not quote from the Old Testament, but did reference philosophers with whom the audience would be familiar.

Central Teaching: God wants everyone to repent (that is, to turn from their current ways of doing things and follow him).

God wants everyone to repent. Click To Tweet

Subsequent Events: Some sneered at his teaching, while others wanted to hear more, and some believed.

Key Lesson: The message of Jesus can be offensive to some (see Jeremiah 6:10).

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #5 or sermon #7.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Paul’s Words Stir up the Crowd

The Jews React to Paul’s Message

The eighth sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 21:27-22:30 (specifically Acts 22:3-21), where Paul’s words stir up the crowd, all because they don’t like what he says.

Setting: Jerusalem, in the temple

Speaker: Paul

Audience: A mob and a few Roman soldiers

Preceding Events: Some Jews from Asia lie about Paul and stir up a mob.

Overall Theme: Paul shares the key points of his spiritual journey.

Scripture Quoted: none directly, though some of Paul’s story and the words spoken by Jesus are recorded in Acts 9:3-18.

Central Teaching: Jesus came for all people. (God called Paul to tell the Gentiles about Jesus.)

Subsequent Events: The riotous mob erupts again. Paul is temporarily taken into custody and then released.

People can respond violently if they don’t like what you are saying, perhaps more so if you challenge their religious beliefs. Click To Tweet

Key Lesson: People can respond violently if they don’t like what you are saying, perhaps more so if you challenge their religious beliefs.

Though Paul did not directly incite a riot with his words, the people’s reaction did. They took offense with his message because it challenged their religious beliefs and practices.

Instead of having a civil discussion or walking away, they responded with physical force to attack the messenger. They would have killed Paul if not for the soldiers who rescued him from the out-of-control mod.

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #7 or sermon #9.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Obey God Regardless: Paul Speaks to the Elders in Ephesus

Paul Sermon in Ephesus

The seventh sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 20:16-37 (specifically Acts 20:18-35).

Setting: Miletus

Speaker: Paul

Audience: Elders from the church of Ephesus

Preceding Events: Paul, compelled by the Holy Spirit, is steadfastly traveling to Jerusalem.

Overall Theme: Paul gives his personal testimony (he has worked hard for God, has no regrets, and is obeying the Holy Spirit) and offers encouragement to the elders. He will obey God regardless.

Scripture Quoted: Paul quotes Jesus, but those words are not directly found in the gospel accounts of Jesus.

Central Teaching: Paul will do what God tells him, even though it will result in hardships.

Subsequent Events: Paul leaves and once in Jerusalem is thrown in prison.

Key Lesson: Doing what God tells us to do is more important than our own safety and comfort.

Doing what God tells us to do is more important than our own safety and comfort. Click To Tweet

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #6 or sermon #8.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Paul Talks about Resurrection from the Dead

Paul Talks to Felix

The ninth sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 24:1-27 (specifically Acts 24:10-21). Paul gives his testimony and talks about his belief in the resurrection from the dead.

Setting: A hearing before Felix in Caesarea

Speaker: Paul

Audience: Felix (the governor and judge), Jews, and Ananias and Tertullus, Paul’s accusers.

Preceding Events: Paul is sent to Felix in Caesarea to protect him from a plot by some Jews in Jerusalem who have vowed to kill him.

Overall Theme: Paul denies the charges against him and declares his core beliefs.

Scripture Quoted: none

Central Teaching: Paul believes in the resurrection from the dead.

Subsequent Events: Paul is kept in prison for two years, but is granted some freedom and has more opportunities to talk with Felix. Although Felix is moved by what Paul says, there is no record of him deciding to follow Jesus.

Key Lesson: God’s plans may not be our plans or meet our expectations of how things should happen.

We should, however, put our faith and trust in God and his plans for us. His will for our life is more important than our plans.

Paul believes in the resurrection from the dead. Click To Tweet

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #8 or sermon #10.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Paul Shares His Story

The tenth sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 25:10-Acts 26:22 (specifically Acts 26:2-29)

Setting: A hearing before Festus in Caesarea

Speaker: Paul

Audience: Festus, King Agrippa, Bernice, high-ranking military officers, and prominent city leaders.

Preceding Events: Paul, in an effort to avoid being assassinated in Jerusalem, appeals his case to Caesar (whom he likely assumes will grant him a fair trial).

Overall Theme: Paul shares the story of his life, always the devote follower of God, at first opposing those who follow Jesus and later becoming one of them, with the purpose of telling the Gentiles about Jesus.

Scripture Quoted: none directly, though some of Paul’s story and the words spoken by Jesus are recorded in Acts 9:3-18 and again in Acts 22:3-21.

Central Teaching: Paul hopes and prays that everyone will follow Jesus.

Subsequent Events: Since Paul appealed his case to Caesar, he cannot be set free and instead is sent to Rome.

Key Lesson: Paul’s zealous pursuit of God is worthy of emulation, but despite having done nothing wrong or illegal, Paul remains imprisoned for his faith.

Paul’s zealous pursuit of God is worthy of emulation, but despite having done nothing wrong or illegal, Paul remains imprisoned for his faith. Click To Tweet

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #9 or sermon #11.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.