Acts 9 v.4
“He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Today’s verse take place as Saul of Tarsus is on his way to Damascus with authority from the Jewish leaders to arrest Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem. As we know on his journey he was dazzled by a bright light and he heard a voice say “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Remember that Saul thought he was doing God’s will by persecuting Christians, but he didn’t realise that by persecuting Christians he was really persecuting Jesus. By saying this Jesus was showing how he is united to his people, because he is the head of the body which is his church. Just as a painful finger or a sore toe makes itself felt in your head, so when part of the body of Christ is in pain, Jesus feels it as well.
This brings the believer comfort because when his people suffer for his sake or when they are struggling to follow him; remember us that the Lord knows our pain and what we are enduring for his sake. The Lord does not forget when his people suffer for him and the gospel, so when Christians around the world are martyred, arrested, persecuted, denied basic human rights simply because they are Christians and love Jesus, then the Lord knows their situation, he sees their plight, he feels their pain and he will help them.
Much closer to home, we might not face prison or anything as extreme as that because we live in a free country but there will always be a cost to following Jesus, yes it is difficult but remember that Jesus sees your faithfulness in following him and he will reward those who do.
Give thanks for the Lord’s love for his body.
Pray that through trials the Lord’s people would remember that they are a part of his body.
Pray for Christians around the world who suffer persecution that they would be encouraged by remembering that their lives are in God’s hands.
Acts 9 v.4
Hi everyone, as you all know the 14th June was to be Children’s Day. So given the lockdown situation we face, it is going to be a bit different. Would you be willing to sing a suitable piece, a solo, duet, trio, quartet, etc and WhatsApp the video to me? We are hoping to produce a DVD for Children’s Day, so if you would like to sing a suitable place, let me know and we will try to include everyone who wants to take part on the DVD, we also need some people to read.
Acts 8 v.39
“When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”
In difficult times like these it is good to have something to make us happy. Perhaps you like to listen to comedians doing stand-up comedy, maybe you like to watch a funny programme on TV for a bit of light relief or perhaps you like to get lost in a good book or movie. The only problem is that when we finish, we have to come back to normality and realise that things haven’t changed.
But in today’s verse we read of someone who rejoiced, their happiness was dependent on having a good laugh or getting lost in a book, instead it was a deep seated joy he experienced because his life had changed. And what had changed his life?
He had been reading from Isaiah 53 but he didn’t understand it. So a Christian called Philip took time to explain to him the good news about Jesus. When the man, who was an important Ethiopian, heard the good news he was converted and baptised and he went on his way back to Ethiopia rejoicing.
It might seem strange to people that knowing about Jesus and trusting in him would make someone happy, but Jesus does make us more than happy, he gives us a deep joy that lasts no matter what circumstances we face. When we realise that he suffered for us, when we realise that he died on the cross for our sins, when we realised that by faith in him we can be united to him and have a great hope, is it any wonder we can rejoice in all he has done for us?
You might not think there is much to make you glad at the moment but the good news is that knowing Jesus’ great salvation can make us glad, so do you trust in him so like the Ethiopian you can be filled with joy because everything else will never bring us the lasting joy that knowing Jesus does.
Give thanks for Jesus and all he has done for us.
Pray that many would know the joy of following Jesus.
Pray that many would find hope in Christ.
Acts 7 vs. 54 – 58
“When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices; they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Today’s verses take place at the end of a speech which Stephen an early Christian gave to the Jewish leaders. What is remarkable about the speech was the boldness with which Stephen declared the gospel in order to convince the Jewish leaders that they were guilt sinners who needed the Lord’s forgiveness. What Stephen had to say was difficult and it certainly didn’t make his listeners feel comfortable because they ended up stoning him.
Sometimes Christians have things to say to other people that won’t be comfortable for them to hear, the gospel never is because no-one likes to be told of their spiritual condition or how they need forgiveness for their sins and perhaps we might shy away from speaking such words. But remember that there will be times that following Jesus takes us out of our comfort zone and that if we need to be willing to deny ourselves, the right to live comfortably, take up our cross and follow Jesus, just as Stephen did.
Thankfully the Lord who makes big demands on his people is also the same God who helps his people. Don’t we read in these verses how he helped Stephen as he preached by filling him with the Holy Spirit and when the crowd was about to lynch him he looked up to heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God, thus giving him encouragement that he was doing what the Lord wanted. Never be afraid to speak for the Lord when the opportunity arises because the Lord will give you the strength you need and remember he is listening and is will not forget how you spoke up for him.
So like Stephen don’t be afraid to be bold for the Lord.
Give thanks that the gives his people strength.
Ask the Lord to remind you that he is always listening when you share him with other people.
Pray for the USA, that the violence will end and justice will be done.
Acts 4 vs. 11 – 12
“Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
These might seem like simple words to say, but the context in which they were said make them provocative comments. Peter and John were speaking to the rulers of the Jewish people in Jerusalem, these were the same people who had plotted to have Jesus crucified. So when Peter said that Jesus who they rejected was the capstone, and that salvation is found in no other he was making a very pointed criticism of their actions.
Notice though how Peter couldn’t keep quiet about Jesus, this uneducated fisherman might have felt intimidated by the intelligent, articulate and important people, but he wasn’t instead he was going to speak to them about Jesus and all the things that he and the rest of the apostles had heard and seen.
That is why the church in the book of Acts was so alive and spiritually effective; they couldn’t stop talking about Jesus and they wanted to share the gospel with other people even when it was difficult.
The big question we need to ask ourselves is have we that same desire and do we want to share the gospel with other people as well?
Give than to the Lord for Jesus the cornerstone of our salvation.
Pray that we would be willing to talk to others about Jesus.
Pray for those worried about their businesses and jobs, that they would find a way through these difficult times.