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Don’s Daily Devotions

DonsDailyDevotions

Acts chapter 9:36-43:

Acts chapter 9:36-43:

 

V36:  We learn of a Christian woman, named Tabitha ( in Aramaic ) or Dorcas  ( in Greek )  She was well known for her acts of Christian charity and love to many in Joppa, where she lives.

V37-38:  She becomes very ill, and dies, causing great grief among the believers. Joppa is near to Lydda, and knowing that Peter is there, they send urgently for him.

V39:  Coming at once, he finds many widows who had been the particular focus of Dorcas’ acts of charity, mourning in the room where her body has been laid.

V40:  Putting them out of the room, Peter kneels by her body and prays. Then – prompted it must be by the Holy Spirit – he calls to her to “get up” – above all, he is calling on the Lord to restore her, of course. Her eyes open, she sees Peter and sits up – restored indeed by the power of the Lord of Life, working through His servant, another seal on the witness of those early days when Christ is establishing His Church.

V41-42:  Peter calls the believers, including the widows who had so grieved for her, and restores her to them. This has a great gospel impact in Joppa, people not only amazed, but coming to true faith as they see the power of Jesus at work and are pointed to Him. Here, as in Lydda in v35, Peter must surely have declared the gospel as well as been instrumental in healing.

V43:  The chapter ends by telling us Peter then stays some time in Joppa, lodging with Simon, a tanner by trade. This is to prepare for the significant events in chapter 10 to follow. 

DonsDailyDevotions

Acts chapter 9:27-35:

Acts chapter 9:27-35:

 

V27: But the Jerusalem Christians – even it seems the Apostles, are fearful of a trap, doubting the reality of his conversion. How it must have cast his heart down – until we read the lovely words ” but Barnabas took him” – that great encourager we met in chapter 4 v36 – who listens to Saul, discerns and trusts what the Lord has done, and brings him to the Apostles, standing we might say as his mentor.

V28:  With Barnabas’ support, Saul is now accepted, and is soon preaching boldly in the Name of Jesus here at Jerusalem, just as he had at Damascus.

V29:  He disputes with the ” Hellenists” – the Greek speaking Jews, remember – who soon seek his life. Might these include the very men who had been instrumental in Stephen’s death, with whom Saul had once stood? ( ch 6  v 9ff ; 7 v58.) 

V30:  So the believers, truly Saul’s “brothers” now, get him out of Jerusalem for his own protection, first to Caesarea, then to his own home city of Tarsus.

V31:   A period of peace is then granted to the churches in Judea and the surrounding areas – seemingly the one time persecutor had become the focus of persecution at this time – and those churches know a time of blessing and growth. Their lives are summed up in the lovely phrase ” walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit”. May it be true of our lives, by God’s grace.  

V32-33:  The focus changes back to Peter for a while. We learn he is in a town called Lydda, witnessing and encouraging the believers there He meets a paralysed man, bed-ridden for 8 years.

V34-35:  Peter heals him in the power and by the Name of Jesus, telling him to get up and take up his bed ( just as Jesus had done himself, in Mark 2:1-12.)  This has a great effect on many people, not just exciting their wonder, but turning them gto the Lord, whose power is seen at work in such a way.

DonsDailyDevotions

Acts chapter 9:19b-26

Acts chapter 9:19b-26:

 

V19b:  Saul is now found among the disciples in Damascus – and clearly accepted by them, the very ones he came to persecute, as a brother in Christ. He is truly a transformed man – so he could later write 2 Corinthians 5:17.

V20-21:  So, he is found immediately preaching in the synagogues, proclaiming that Jesus is truly the Son of God – which once he would have seen as blasphemy – and such a ” turning about” ( the root meaning of conversion ) amazes those who witness it – here is the man who came to Damascus to persecute those who did what he is now doing!

V22: But Saul ” increased all the more in strength”, both physically and spiritually, we may be sure.Here is the living proof of the truth he now proclaims, and of Jesus living in him, the source of all that he now is and does.( Galatians 2:20.)

V23-24:  And almost at once he who had once persecuted believers knows persecution for Christ’s sake himself. But a plot to ambush Saul at the city gates and take him off to kill him is made known to him.

V25:  We don’t know how long he has been in Damascus, but clearly he is already seen as something of a leader among the disciples there, and concerned for his safety, they smuggle him out of the city, as described here.

V26:  So, he comes back to Jerusalem, and seeks to join the believers there.

DonsDailyDevotions

Acts chapter 9:13-19a:

Acts chapter 9:13-19a:

 

V13-14:   Ananias for a moment protests – small wonder – he has heard of Saul as a persecutor who has come to Damascus to attack the church there, with authority from the chief priests – which Saul himself had sought, of course ( v1-2).

V15:  But the Lord tells Ananias how Saul is His sovereignly chosen instrument for a great gospel ministry, preaching the Name of Jesus – the name he had previously hated – to both Jew and Gentile, and even before kings! Paul expresses his wonder at such undeserved grace in Galatians 1:13-16, but again, so should we all.

V16:  From the very first, Saul will be told that his service for Christ will involve great suffering for His sake. Acts will show something of this, and some references in Paul’s letters will give more detail – especially 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. As the verses before us show, nothing that happens to Paul – or to us – is outside of God’s plan and purpose – He knows!

V17:  Ananias goes to Saul as Christ has directed, lays his hands on him – calling him, note brother Saul” – his doubts are gone – telling him Jesus has sent him to restore his sight – and that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit!

V18-19a:  At once “something like scales” – human language seeking to explain something beyond normal human experience – fall from Saul’s eyes and he can see again – see what he has never seen before, of course, that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord.

At once he is baptised, and only then does he break his fast, and is immediately strengthened.

DonsDailyDevotions

Acts chapter 9:7-12:

Acts chapter 9:7-12:

V7:  Those accompanying Paul are mystified – they hear a voice, but see no-one. This surely makes it clear that Saul does indeed see Jesus.

V8-9:  When Saul gets up he can see nothing – the heavenly light has blinded him, and he needs to be led into the city, where for 3 days he remains in this condition and will neither eat nor drink ( but, as v11 tells us, he is praying, surely as he has never prayed before.)

V10:  We learn of a disciple named Ananias – surely a leader among the Damascus Christians – and how the Lord calls to him in a vision. He knows at once who it is who speaks to him.

V11:  The Lord tells Ananias to go to Saul, giving him clear directions where to find him, for he is praying. Again, how different his prayers must be from those he had prayed before as a zealous Pharisee.

V12:  We learn that Saul has already been given a vision of Ananias coming to him to restore his sight – and far more than his physical sight, of course. All this is ” grace abounding to the chief of sinners” ( The title of Bunyan’s “spiritual autobiography, combining Romans 5:20 and I Timothy 1:15 (A.V.) – true of Bunyan, true of Saul, and true of every one of us as believers! )

DonsDailyDevotions

Acts chapter 9:1-6:

Acts chapter 9:1-6:

V1:  Saul’s bitter hatred of Christ’s people – and of the very Name of Jesus ( see Acts 26:9.) knows no bounds. He seeks their death, and goes to the High priest…

V2: … to ask for written authority to persecute believers in Damascus, to arrest both men and women to bring them to Jerusalem ( and presumably before the Sanhedrin council,)

V3:  On his journey, he is drawing near to Damascus, when ” a light from heaven” shines upon him – God is breaking into this arch-persecutor’s life in amazing grace!

V4:  Saul falls to the ground, and a voice – Jesus Himself – asks Saul why does he persecute Him? Note that to persecute His people is to persecute the Lord Himself, so closely does He identify Himself with them.

V5-6:  Saul asks who it is that speaks to him – though in his heart he must surely know, and note he already calls the One who speaks Lord – a term only properly applied to Jesus in the NT. Jesus answers him plainly – let there be no doubt – and tells him to get up, go into the city and there he will be told what to do. Paul later makes it quite clear that this was not simply a vision, but a real encounter with the Risen Christ, in His grace, which would be the source and seal of his Apostleship. ( 1 Corinthians 15:8-10.)

DonsDailyDevotions

Acts chapter 8:34-40:

Acts chapter 8:34-40:

V34:  The Eunuch asks whether the prophet is speaking of himself, or someone else. What an opportunity to speak of Jesus! Grace is at work in all that is happening here, preparing this man’s heart for the gospel, as He has many others since.

V35:  Readily, Philip begins at that same Scripture to declare Jesus to him. How full Isaiah 53 is of the Saviour and His work – see especially v3-5 – but the whole OT is full of Him, of course. ( See Luke 24:27.)

V36-37:  Philip must have declared a full gospel, and a full response of repentance, faith and obedience, with baptism as the outward witness to that faith. The chariot comes -” by chance”, men would say – to “some water”. An oasis? A watering hole? The Eunuch asks what is there to prevent his being baptised?

V38:  Philip is sure the man’s confession of faith is real, his repentance genuine, and willingly baptises him at once.

V39-40:  Then the Holy Spirit ” carried Philip away”. Is this a miraculous act, or does it simply mean He directs Philip elsewhere? The former seems to be indicated here. The Eunuch sees no more of the man instrumental in his conversion – nor does he need to, for it was God’;s sovereign grace at work – but goes on his way rejoicing – rejoicing in the Lord and Saviour he now knows. Philip is found at Azotus ( the OT Ashdod, once a Philistine city, on the coast of Israel .) He preaches there, and in every place he comes to, until he comes to Caesarea, some 40 miles further North.

In all this chapter, God has worked through His people, whether the unnamed believers scattered from Jerusalem in v4, Peter and John, or Philip, to further the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church.

DonsDailyDevotions

Acts chapter 8:26-33:

Acts chapter 8:26-33:

V26:  Now God speaks to Philip – the Angel of the Lord in the OT speaks of God Himself appearing to those He chooses, many believe the pre-incarnate Jesus –  can we say then that Jesus Himself now directs Philip to leave his fruitful ministry in Samaria, to go down to a road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza, through a largely desert area. How strange, we may think, but God’s ways are always right.

V27:  For there Philip meets this man from Ethiopia, the treasurer of their queen, but clearly a believer in the God of Israel – a “God-fearer” in the terms of the day. As a Eunuch, he could not have been a full proselyte, but the old barriers of the ceremonial law are being broken down in Christ.

V28:  Having been to Jerusalem to worship, he is now returning in his chariot, but even as he travels he is reading from the book of Isaiah. As a man of rank, he would of course have had a chariot driver with him, and the “book” would be a scroll.

V29-30:  The Holy Spirit tells Philip to go up to the chariot. Eager to do God’s will, Philip runs to join the man, and Philip hears him reading from Isaiah 53 – in that day, many would have read aloud, especially in a language not their own, as presumably was the case here. Prompted by the Spirit, Philip asks him if he understands what he is reading?

V31:  He readily admits he needs someone to explain it to him – and seems to see Philip as sent for this purpose – so, asks him into the chariot to do so. Clearly, here is a heart prepared by God’s grace for the gospel.

V32-33:  He is reading from Isaiah 53:7-8. The quotation is a little differently worded from those actual verses in our ESV, and would be from the Greek version of the OT widely used at this time. How remarkably God is at work in all this. Could any passage give a clearer lead to point to Jesus?

DonsDailyDevotions

Read Acts chapter 8:20-25:

Read Acts chapter 8:20-25:

 

V20: Peter is angered by this mercenary attitude, but surely more at the unbelieving heart behind it. He tells Simon he will come under solemn judgement for this, and his money will perish with him. Perhaps we remember the parable of the “rich fool” in Luke 12:16-21.

V21-22:  Then he tells Simon his heart is not right with God, he has no part in the work of God he has just witnessed and is still a sinner under judgement – but now he calls on him to repent and to pray for forgiveness.

V23-24:  He perceives the bitterness of Simon’s spirit – his desire for status and power, and that he is truly in the grip of sin. Simon asks the Apostles to pray for him, that this judgement will not come upon him. Does he feel unable to pray himself, or does he think the Apostles’ prayers will “carry more weight”? He is still far from true faith, and Scripture does not tell us if he came to faith after this. But God’s grace has a long reach, and His mercy is wonderful.

V25:  Peter and John stay a while in Samaria after this, preaching there, then as they return to Jerusalem, they preach in all the Samaritan villages they pass through. Clearly, they are fully convinced that God’s grace has been poured out on the Samaritans too, and that will be their report back.

 

DonsDailyDevotions

Acts chapter 8:14-19:

Acts chapter 8:14-19:

 

V14-15: Hearing of the work in Samaria, the Apostles send Peter and John to seek to know if this is indeed of the Lord. Remember, it is a completely new departure, not yet endorsed by the Apostles. Is it truly a work of God’s grace? Peter and John are, it seems, quickly convinced, and pray for the converts to receive the Holy Spirit.

V16-17:  It seems God’s work in the Samaritan believers is ongoing – they have not yet received the Spirit, though they have truly believed in the Lord, and been baptised in His Name. But when Peter and John lay hands on them, they receive the Holy Spirit at once. This is best understood, I think, as God’s outward confirmation that these ” non-Jews ” have had the same experience as their Jewish brothers in all its fullness. We will see this again in the Gentile household of Cornelius in ch10. These early confirmations of salvation come to Samaritans and Gentiles are just that – not an ongoing pattern.

V18-19:  Now Simon comes into the picture again, surely casting doubt on his professed conversion. Amazed by the result of the Apostles laying on of hands ( there must have been tangible outward signs, perhaps like those on the Day of Pentecost ) he offers money to be given the same power. Clearly, he has no real understanding of God’s grace at work and what it means – the outward signs are what he wants. May we never be taken up with externals, of any kind, but pray and long to see real works of grace, to God’s glory.