Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reading Challenge: Acts 8-9

Welcome back everyone. Great thoughts on yesterdays post. Continue to give your opinions and thoughts for others to engage with. 

Today's reading is form Acts 8-9

Chapter 8:
So often we view trials and hardships as problems to be overcome and forgotten. What we see here in this chapter is that the persecution of the believers scattered them to other areas, and soon after people from other places are putting faith in Christ (Simon the Sorcerer and the Ethiopian Eunuch). It was through this persecution that the church actually began to move outside of Jerusalem and into Judea and Samaria as the Acts 1:8 passage foretold. Is it possible that the trials or difficult circumstances we are going through today or yesterday is so that God can get us to the place where He wants us? Without this persecution from Saul and others, who knows if the church ever consciously scatters?

Chapter 9:
One of the great chapters of the Bible. We actually get to first-hand witness the greatest missionary/evangelist/pastor ever come to faith. The point of the story that I like the most is that no matter evidence he had heard about Christianity, nothing could replace the personal encounter that he had with Jesus. He was there while Stephen made a case for the faith, and he was aware of the claims the apostles were making about this man named Jesus, but it wasn't until he had real encounter with Jesus that he laid down his life. Two things it tells me: even the hardest of hearts cannot resist when they encounter Christ face-to-face and we have to do everything we can as followers of Jesus to help others have these encounters

This is a great book! I'm loving it! Your thoughts?


  1. My take: God Always takes the initiative.Salvation is a gift!
    He wants us to worship Him and He tells us HOW to do it.Anytime we try to worship God in our own way, it will become religion-pagan.
    Religion is fueled by fear and pride and it stands in the way to Salvation.I think that was what Stephen was trying to point out.The Temple-was a place where they took pride in what they did for God.The laws they kept were outward signs like their circumcision was,but their hearts had never entered into the covenant.Basically they were idolaters-pagan=uncircumcised.
    At Stephen's death he didn't gaze at the temple,he fixed his eyes on Jesus who was standing before God's throne ready and waiting for Stephen.Just like a lawyer to represent Stephen before the witness to his death,just like a friend ready to greet him on his arrival.
    Was Saul some kind of religious law enforcement officer?(I know he made tents)
    God allows him to hear Stephen's message and witness his death.Even so he isn't persuaded and continues on his religious crusade.Of course, how many of us were saved the first time we heard the gospel?
    The faith of Ananias is pretty amazing.To go see,heal and encourage a man who still has the papers on him to put you in prison.I would have been tempted to destroy the papers.Barnabas is such a good friend to calm everybody and speak up on Saul's behalf.Of course people would be skeptical and afraid too.How many people can say of me, Sure, I know her,she's a christian,I have seen how she lives and have heard her speak.
    Doing God"s Work in God's Way vs Godly work in our way is where Phillip goes into the desert to be a missionary to ONE person,Ananias going to see Saul-ONE person,and even going to Joppa to heal ONE woman,probably a widow, whose work was such a ministry in the church.This goes against what we like to do.A lot of churches are about the numbers.Seriously,they were told to go into all the world.Well, that's a lot of people and they were probably thinking that Christ would be back soon and they had to get this work done ASAP.
    But if we only reach one person,we don't know who else or how many more that one will in turn reach.
    God uses our unique styles and talents for his glory. He used a servant to a queen on his way back to Ethiopia (in an unknown way),He used Paul in a mighty way,and He even used a woman whose ministry was doing something as simple and humble as making coats for others.
    God will take the initiative and tell us what to do, where to go and what to say all we have to do is obey.That should be the easiest thing in the world to do right?

  2. I love the story about Paul's conversion. I guess it had to be extreme for him to except Jesus as Lord.

    It's understandable why God wanted Saul on his side, Saul had influence in many different environments. He could go places nobody else could. He knew how to live in that tension of being in the world but not of it. I just love everything about that story.

  3. Listening to the Spirit is important....Notice that Philip heard the Spirit and moved to join the Ethiopian. Because he moved at the right time...he was in the midst of the Spirit dealing with the servant of a Queen. ( what a future door opener)

    I Love this passage. "... Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?"

    The 2nd thing that jumped out for me was this passage: " And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord."

    A miracle whether it is a physical healing or a spiritual healing is a powerful testimony that can still change entire cities !!

  4. Laurie,

    I love your inner Luther and Calvin coming out! You're right though, God is the one who initiates salvific is purely a gift, so that no man may boast.

  5. What a testemant to servanthood...just before you take your last breath you look up and see Jesus STANDING at the right hand of God. I would be thrilled just to hear "well done good and faithful servant". Imagine that being your last sight on Earth. What a way to enter paradise.

  6. Take Away Ch.6
    v.36 I love how excited the eunuch was to get baptized.....I love when I see that kind of excitement among new believers today...there is just something about seeing when one is so excited about their belief in Christ that they want to get baptized immediately to proclaim it!!

    Take Away Ch.9
    I love how God used the very person that essentially caused a stir everywhere! Just as some of the scripture some of the disciples were taken back by it and unsure...might have been a way of God putting a little bit more of a fire under some of those that had started to become complacent in their ministry....who would it take God changing today to put a fire under get us back on track better?