Acts 15 - This is a crucial chapter in Acts for it gives a clear decision in the early Church that salvation was by grace alone and not by fulfilling any Old Testament laws, verses 10,11. This seems to still be an issue today with right-wing fundamentalism that teaches all kinds of rules and regulations a believer has to follow in order to prove they are a Christian. Legalism in all its ugly forms has been denounced in Scripture over and over again. Whether it be the practice of the Pharisees or those in our day who insist on adherence to their standards, one needs only to go through the Epistle to the Galatians to see how God and Paul have trashed this teaching! (Galatians will be part of your reading in the next two days). Sadly, at the end of Acts 15 you will read of a needless argument between Paul and Barnabas over whether to take John Mark with them on Paul's Second Missionary Journey. If they had but prayed I believe the Holy Spirit would have encouraged them to do exactly what they did anyway: Make up two evangelistic teams and spread the Gospel even further without an argument!
Acts 16 - Paul and Silas would also encourage Timothy to join them in this 2nd journey. It is noteworthy to recognize that the Holy Spirit clearly stopped this team from going into some areas and made it clear that they were to go into Macedonia instead and preach the Gospel. Doing so they found some women who were praying. In sharing the Gospel with them the Bible clearly teaches that "...the Lord opened..." the heart of Lydia to believe what she heard and she got saved. (This is a great way to pray that God would "open the heart" of those you wish to see saved). Later in this chapter you will read of the imprisonment of Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail. Instead of complaining, they sang! God used a momentous night to bring about the conversion of the Philippian jailer and his whole family. Note, there was no need for any amount of time to pass before Paul would say that this man and his wife were truly saved! They were baptized immediately to show that Paul could clearly see that they truly trusted the Lord.