PETER

In Your Bible: Acts 8:26-37; 9 :1-6; 32-35; 10:30-38

Philip, Peter, and Paul continued to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet peoples’ needs. Testimony of their obedience shows their zeal to hear and see what God wanted them to do in any situation. In Acts, the apostles were used mightily by the Lord.

Concurrent Action

Some Bible commentators contend that the phrase “meanwhile” (Acts 9:1) infers that the following occurred at about the same time:

  • Philip teaches the Ethiopian eunuch in the chariot (Acts 8:26-39)
  • Saul meets Jesus and is converted (Acts 9:1-9)
  • Jesus Christ heals Aeneas at Peters’ command (Acts 9:34)

What an amazing peek at God’s eagerness to reach out with spectacular timing and meet the needs of man.

God’s Inclusive Plan

God’s mysterious vision to Peter revealed his inclusive plan for all mankind. Peter quickly learned God’s new meaning of clean and unclean. This encounter changed Peter as radically as Saul was changed.

Peter admitted, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:34-36 NIV).

As Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard him. Circumcised and uncircumcised alike began speaking in tongues and praising God (Acts 10:44-46).

Saints

The term saints was first used in Matthew 27:52. At Jesus’ death on the cross—when the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints were raised.

Peter described Church members as saints – the Greek word here is actually hagios, meaning holy. The root meaning and intent is “different.” Paul often began his letters to churches he had planted with a greeting, “to the saints at”. Additionally, the endeartng term saints is used in Hebrews, Jude and Revelation.

In Acts, the apostles were used mightily by the Lord.

Prayer: Father, I want to be bold and available to be used by you for your purpose. Help me be ready to follow through.

Questions: How would you compare Peter’s vision (Acts 10:9-13) with Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. What does it reveal about these strong leaders?

Philip

In Your Bible: Acts 8:1-40

It was the worst of times. it was the best of times. Persecution raged against the new believers, which prompted the Holy Spirit to intervene. God worked, the apostles witnessed, God’s message spread, and needy people received healing in every town in Samaria. The Holy Spirit did and does amazing things to proclaim Jesus Christ.

In Samaria

Because of the great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, most believers scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.

The apostle Philip went to the city of Samaria to proclaim Christ to the crowds. They received his testimony and saw many signs, wonders, and healings. Yes, there was much rejoicing. When the apostles, who remained in Jerusalem, heard the good news was received, there they rejoiced. Immediately they sent Peter and John so these believers might receive the Holy Spirit also. Alleluia, they did receive the Spirit.

With the Eunuch

Next, an angel from God spoke to Philip. His message: simply go to a desert road (one that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza). That’s all the angel said. Philip did as the angel commanded. He met an Ethiopian Eunuch, sitting in a carriage reading Scripture from the Prophet Isaiah:

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
    yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
    And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
    he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
    that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
    for the rebellion of my people (Isa 53:7b-8 NLT).

Philip asked the Eunuch if he understood what he was reading. The eunuch replied no, he couldn’t and asked Philip to tell him know what it meant. Then, beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus (See Acts 8:35 NLT).

The church developed from a purely Jewish institution. Then, through persecution the Good News reached the Gentiles. This confounded the entire world. Yes, the Holy Spirit did the and does now amazing things to proclaim Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Father, I do believe the Good News about Jesus the Christ. Give me strength and willingness to respond to all you want me to do.

Questions: How can we, as believers, listen to God’s message or even his messenger and respond to what He says? Are you prepared to respond even if you don’t understand?

Saul – Persecutor to Proclaimer

Saul watched as Stephen was stoned and became an adamant persecutor of followers of the Way. Then he encountered Jesus in a dramatic manner on the road to Damascus. Saul was changed forever.

God’s Chosen One

I think it’s notable that the Lord told Ananias why he must go to Saul “This man is a [deliberately] chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will make clear to him how much he must suffer and endure for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15,16 Amplified).

Saul’s proclamation reveals great insight.“The one who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I could preach him among the Gentiles” (Gal 1:15,16a New English Bible).

Boldly Speaking of Christ

Saul escaped from Damascus, when some of the Jews plotted to kill him. He went to Jerusalem to meet with Jewish believers [and explain how changed he was], but they were afraid of him.

In Jerusalem, Barnabas became an advocate for Saul and took him to the apostles. He described Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and how Saul had preached boldly in Damascus in the name of Jesus.

So Saul stayed with the apostles and moved freely in Jerusalem also speaking boldly in the name of Jesus. But some Hellenistic Jews disagreed and threatened to kill Saul. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus (Acts 9:30 NASB). He did not stop speaking boldly of Christ.

Saul was changed forever.

Prayer: Father, help me fulfill the purpose you have for me. I want to take each step you have for me.

Questions: How were you changed when you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior?

Time Alone With Jesus

In Your Bible: Acts 9:20,21; Galatians 1:11-24

On the road to Damascus, Saul encountered the risen Christ Jesus. Saul of Tarsus, became Paul the apostle who immediately declared boldly that Jesus, whom he persecuted, was the Son of God. What a change believers saw in this Pharisee whom they feared. They were in awe of what God did in their midst. Yet, Paul knew he needed time alone with Jesus.

Saul Was Changed

Three days after  Ananias prayed for him, Saul now Paul bore witness of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Synagogues of Damascus. His message this time was “Jesus is indeed the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 NLT). His preaching became more and more powerful. The Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (Acts 9:22 NLT).

Alone with Jesus

Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians a part that is missing from the book of Acts. Paul went to Arabia (see Gal 1) to be alone with Jesus. Here he gained guidance and strength to preach boldly for Christ:

  • Paul’s mind was opened by Jesus to better understand Scriptures he already knew.
  • Jesus explained the parables to Paul – what he taught his disciples.
  • Jesus explained himself to Paul in all the Scriptures, beginning with Moses, the Law, and the prophets—in greater detail than was done with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
  • Jesus also described how to live in what we call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Jesus explained what God wanted.

This time prepared Paul for a powerful and unique ministry to the
Gentiles. Yes, Paul knew needed time alone with Jesus.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the promise of directing my path in gentle manner by your Holy Spirit. I want to follow through with all you want me to do.

Questions: When was the last time Jesus spoke to you to correct your path? Was this gentle or abrupt?

The Conversion of Saul

In Your Bible: Acts 9:1-19

The stunning record of Saul’s encounter on the road to Damascus may be the most famous conversion story in the New Testament. Saul had a “talking to” from the Lord Jesus Christ. God stopped Saul, humbled him, healed him, and then empowered him with a new task.

The Encounter

Damascus was a walk of at least 7 to 10 days from Jerusalem. The roadway was a famous trade route, with rest stops about 5-10 miles apart. Notably this walk would include a Sabbath with a day’s rest (since no work or walk a significant distance could be done on the Sabbath).

Finally, at mid-day, Saul was about to enter the city . . . Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” (Acts 9:4b-5a NASB). Saul fell to the ground in fear.

Immediately Saul heard the answer, “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. . .” (Acts 9:6 Message). Saul could not see and was led to Damascus holding the hand of one travelling with him. Saul didn’t eat or drink for three days.

God’s Provision for Saul

Ananias, a devout believer, had a vision in which the Lord told him to go to Saul. He must pray for him to regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ananias knew about Saul’s activity and was afraid to take on this task. But he did as God directed.

God chose Saul to bear God’s name to the Gentiles, Kings and the Sons of Israel. Imagine how Saul felt when Ananias approached him to pray and addressed him as Brother Saul (see Acts 9:17). God stopped Saul, humbled him, healed him, and then empowered him with a new task.

Isn’t that like believers today? When we get instructions from the Lord, we may be reluctant to act, BUT need to follow what he says. It may be as simple as the word “GO!” Or it may be even more difficult! He’s promised to continue guiding us if we trust Him. Yes, he knows what is best for us.

Prayer: Father, please give me the strength and faith to follow your guidance.

Questions: Has the Lord told you to do something which may have seemed outrageous? How did you respond?