And he found a Jew named Aquila,
a native of Pontus,
having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla,
because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.
He came to them,
and because he was of the same trade,
he stayed with them and they were working,
for by trade they were tent-makers.
Now a Jew named Apollos,
an Alexandrian by birth,
an eloquent man, came to Ephesus;
and he was mighty in the Scriptures.
This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord;
and being fervent in spirit,
he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus,
being acquainted only with the baptism of John;
and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue.
But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him,
they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
I love Priscilla and Aquila! They became good friends with Paul along his journeys. This became a lifelong friendship. In Romans, Paul says they risked their necks for him! I love that they were a team, as we always see them named together. From Corinthians we learn they had a church in their house. Here, together, they take Apollos aside and explain to him the way of God more accurately. And Apollos was used by God mightily. What a couple serving the Lord together!
I want Nancy and Craig to be like Priscilla and Aquila.
Helping God’s workers.
Helping the church.
Risking their lives for the gospel.
Working as a team.
Teaching in their home.
If you aren’t married, and you want to serve God, find a mate with whom you will be a team in God’s work! We need more couples like Priscilla and Aquila!
A vision appeared to Paul in the night:
a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying,
"Come over to Macedonia and help us."
When he had seen the vision,
immediately we sought to go into Macedonia,
concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 16:9, 10
I took special note today of the way God guided Paul. Paul was looking for direction from God as he was serving Him. The gospel was going out. Which way did God want him to go? As Paul sought to go in one direction, God said “no” and guided him in a different direction. When God showed him the direction to go, he immediately went!
This blessed me! God guides. There are people around you needing the gospel. Will you be a willing servant who goes immediately? Do you know the gospel? Later in this chapter, from jail, (yes, God’s direction led Paul to jail) Paul tells the jailer “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
Today I am encouraged to follow the Lord immediately! What an exciting life!
Only one life to offer Jesus, my Lord and King;
Only one tongue to praise Thee and of Thy mercies sing;
Only one heart’s devotion Saviour, O may it be
Consecrated alone to Thy matchless glory,
Yielded fully to Thee.
Only this hour is mine, Lord may it be used for Thee;
May ev’ry passing moment count for eternity;
Souls all about are dying, dying in sin and shame;
Help me bring them the message of Calv’ry’s redemption
In Thy glorious name.
Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself
about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.
This is so wonderful! Just like God called Abraham, God called people from the Gentiles to be set apart for His name. The church. Not to replace Israel. Always in the heart of God. A special people.
I love it. God had to show these men that God wasn’t a partial God. He was calling Gentiles for Himself. If you are a believer, you are part of a larger group for His own glory. Called by His name. To support His cause. To declare His excellencies! This reminded me of these verses:
But you are a chosen race,
A royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
a people for God's own possession,
so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him
who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
for you once were not a people,
but now you are the people of God;
you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers
to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
1 Peter 2:9-11
We belong to Him. We are FOR Him. Let's act like it. Let's declare His excellencies!
After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,
strengthening the souls of the disciples,
encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying,
"Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
Do you know what happened in Lystra where they were returning?
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium,
and having won over the crowds,
they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing him to be dead.
Talk about tribulations! Paul was left for dead. He didn’t seem to care about his safety. He cared about the gospel getting out and building up the believers who were getting saved. His message was to continue in the faith because there would be tribulations!
I love it! This is the spirit we should have today. Share the gospel. Encourage the believers. Don’t consider yourself. The Lord is coming. Quick, get to work! The next person you speak with may be the last one before the Bride is complete and Jesus returns.
While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
"Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit,
they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
But Saul, who was also known as Paul,
filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him…
And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
I was struck with the role of the Holy Spirit in today’s reading.
He set apart people for the work that He called them to.
He sent them out.
He filled them as they preached. (And what a message!)
He filled them with joy continually.
What a work to be part of as the gospel started spreading around the world! Today the Holy Spirit is at work doing these same things! The gospel is still going out. The Holy Spirit is setting out people for His work. Wonderful, wonderful! As never before in my life I know by experience verse 52! Continually filled with joy… at what God is doing! It’s a marvel!
So Peter was kept in the prison,
but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.
And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary,
the mother of John who was also called Mark,
where many were gathered together and were praying.
I love this true event! I didn’t put all the verses up… you should read it!
The angel hitting Peter’s side to wake him up.
The chains falling off.
The exit from jail.
Peter thinking he was dreaming.
Peter knowing the believers were praying.
Peter going there.
The door opened to him.
The door shut as Rhoda runs to tell the others.
Peter still knocking.
I’m thinking so many thoughts about answered prayer. I’m not going to write them all, but this has caused me to sing a simple true song today. And encouraged me to pray. And not just by myself but with the believers. God moves when people pray!
God answers prayer in the morning,
God answers prayer at noon;
God answers prayer in the ev’ning,
To keep your heart in tune.
The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem,
and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch.
Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God,
he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart
to remain true to the Lord;
for he was a good man,
and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.
And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.
I love Barnabas. He was an encourager.
To encourage means to give support, confidence or hope to others.
Barnabas was sent on a mission to encourage.
What he found at the church in Jerusalem made him rejoice and encourage the believers to remain true to the Lord with resolute heart!
That’s a great encouragement for us today.
If you know the Lord, remain true to Him. With resolution!
To resolve is to make a firm decision!
Let’s make firm decisions to remain true to the Lord and let’s encourage others to do the same!
But encourage one another day after day,
as long as it is still called "Today,"
so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
I love Acts 10!
Do you know why? The gospel came to the Gentiles. That’s me!
The whole account is glorious.
Cornelius loved God but didn’t know Jesus.
Peter had to be taught that God doesn’t show partiality, and Peter could tell Cornelius about Jesus. Peter obeyed. (Just think if Peter hadn't obeyed!)
Cornelius, the first Gentile, met Jesus! Yay! This calls for celebration!
Opening his mouth, Peter said:
"I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,
but in every nation the man who fears Him
and does what is right is welcome to Him.
The word which He sent to the sons of Israel,
preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)…
We are witnesses of all the things He did
both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.
God raised Him up on the third day
and granted that He become visible,
not to all the people,
but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God,
that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
And He ordered us to preach to the people,
and solemnly to testify that this is the One
who has been appointed by God
as Judge of the living and the dead.
Of Him all the prophets bear witness
that through His name everyone who believes in Him
receives forgiveness of sins."
God is not a God to show partiality!
He saves sinners who come to Him by faith in Jesus.
Have you believed?
As he was traveling,
it happened that he was approaching Damascus,
and 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?"
And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,
but get up and enter the city,
and it will be told you what you must do."
The men who traveled with him stood speechless,
hearing the voice but seeing no one.
Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open,
he could see nothing;
and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.
And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
I was thinking about what Paul learned when He met Jesus.
Whoever was talking to him was the Lord.
(Wow, that was a powerful realization! What an light and voice!)
The One talking to him was Jesus!
That must mean Jesus is God!
Jesus wasn’t dead as he thought. He was alive.
Persecuting Christians was persecuting Jesus.
He had three days to think it over in blindness before His eyes were open and He became zealous for Jesus!
This is the conversion of a man who went from persecuting Christians to preaching Jesus! Only God can make that kind of transformation!
Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,
and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
saying, "He is the Son of God."
All those hearing him continued to be amazed,
and were saying,
"Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name,
and who had come here
for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?"
But Saul kept increasing in strength
and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus
by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
Have you met Jesus?
A good indicator that you have, is that you talk about him!
Acts 8 has three significant events. I’m just focused on the increased persecution of the church and these verses struck me.
But Saul began ravaging the church,
entering house after house,
and dragging off men and women,
he would put them in prison.
Therefore, those who had been scattered
went about preaching the word.
Something about Stephen’s death set Saul on fire to persecute the Christians.
And he did. If you met Saul at this time, you’d say he was too far gone to be saved.
But God has great plans for him.
What about the persecuted church? They scattered and kept preaching.
A few things to remember today.
God is working in lives. I don’t know who He will save.
My job is to scatter and keep preaching!
More than anything I would like to encourage you in your walk with God!