June 14, 2018
PETER’S MINISTRY TO THE JEWS
After Paul’s conversion there was a season of peace for the church. During this time, the apostle Peter traveled throughout Judea, Samaria and Galilee visiting the new believers and strengthening them in the faith. In the town of Lydda, which goes by the name “Lod” today, Peter healed a paralytic named Aeneas. This caused a great number of people to turn to the Lord after hearing Peter’s preaching. From there, Peter continued on the Jaffa (Pronounced “Yaffa”) highway to the sea coast town of Jaffa. Peter healed a woman named Dorcas in Jaffa and a great number of people believed in Jesus there. Peter made Jaffa his base of ministry for a long time, staying at the home of Simon the Tanner.
Can you imagine having the apostle Peter come to your town? He and the other apostles had great freedom during this season. Peter became known for his ministry among the JBBs (Jewish Background Believers).
June 13, 2018
TO PERSECUTE THE CHURCH IS TO PERSECUTE CHRIST
Saul encountered the glorious Christ on the road to Damascus. Saul was going there to arrest any followers of Jesus that he might find. Yet, he was instead found by the Lord Jesus Himself. The question Jesus asked was informative, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” Saul asked who it was that was speaking, to which he was answered, “I am Jesus.”
The one who persecutes a follower of Jesus, persecutes Jesus Himself. For the Church is the body of Christ and He is its Head (Col.1:18, Eph.1:22-23).
June 12, 2018
CHRIST IS THE SUBJECT AND STANDARD OF SCRIPTURE
When the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip about the identity of the subject in Isaiah 53, he “told him the Good News about Jesus.” Isn’t this how every Scripture should be considered? Look for Christ. For the Scripture always points us ultimately to Christ. As Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me… For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:39, 46).
Philip knew this. So, with the eunuch, he began with Isaiah and preached Christ. Yet, he could have begun anywhere in Scripture. For Christ is both the subject to which all Scripture points and the standard by which all Scripture is understood.
June 11, 2018
STEPHEN’S TESTIMONY TO SAUL
I wonder how often Saul thought of Stephen. Certainly, Saul, who was called Paul after his conversion, often mentioned Stephen in his testimony (See Acts 22:20). Perhaps Stephen’s final words of forgiveness haunted Saul, but later inspired Paul. Stephen’s ministry may have been short-lived, but it no doubt motivated Paul and other believers to be bold about preaching the gospel no matter the consequence.
June 10, 2018
MAN-MADE RELIGION REJECTS THE TRUE GOD
Stephen reminded the Jewish rulers that even though God allowed Solomon to build Him a Temple, He had no need for a man-made dwelling. Sinful man always prefers his man-made religion with his man-made gods and man-made temples. Didn’t the Israelites reject Moses and ask his brother, Aaron, to make them “some gods” to lead them? So Aaron fashioned them a golden calf to worship. Stephen accused the Jewish leaders of rejecting Jesus just as their forefathers had rejected Moses.
The same is true today. People prefer their man-made religion. But God is looking for those who will repent of their sins and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. God doesn’t live in temples made by human hands, but He willingly lives in human hearts that have been changed by the love of Jesus.
June 9, 2018
THE MAKING OF MOSES
In Stephen’s defense before the Jewish high council, he spoke of God’s preparation of Moses as Israel’s deliverer. Moses lived 40 years as a prince of Egypt, adopted by the Pharoah’s sister and raised as her own son. He was given a royal education. Yet, after fleeing Egypt and living 40 years in the wilderness as a shepherd, he seems to have lost his confidence. When God called him to deliver Israel, he complained that he was “slow of speech” (Ex. 4:10). Moses may have been making an idle excuse, or he may have lost his self-confidence. But God reminded Moses that He had made man’s mouth and sent him back to Egypt anyway.
Moses’ 120 years of life can be divided into three 40 year segments. The first 40, he lived as a prince. The second 40, he lived as a fugitive hiding in the wilderness, working as a shepherd. And the final 40 years, he led Israel out of captivity. The first 40 gave Moses confidence, so much so that he tried to be Israel’s deliverer in his own strength. The second 40 humbled him, so that he was totally dependent on God.
It took 80 years to make a Moses that God could use. How long has God been working on you?
June 8, 2018
FIRST DEACON BECOMES PART OF FIRST FRUITS
Stephen was the first among seven deacons appointed by the Apostles. His name means “crowned one.” In addition to his ministry of service (“Deacon” means “servant”), he was a powerful witness for Jesus. It was his preaching that brought him to the attention of the Jewish high council, where lying witnesses falsely accused him.
Stephen, the first deacon, was also the first to experience the persecution in Jerusalem that scattered Christians throughout the Roman world. He was part of a kind of “first fruit offering” from the great harvest of believers in Jesus that gave their lives for their witness. As a result, Christ’s command in Acts 1:8, that they would be His witnesses in “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” was urged forward by the very persecution that sought to stop them.
June 6, 2018
NO OTHER NAME BUT JESUS!
After spending the night in jail, Peter and John were brought before the Jewish Council for preaching in the name of Jesus. The council asked them by what name and authority they had been preaching in the Temple. Peter’s answer was clear. He told them it was by the name of Jesus, whom they had crucified, but God had raised. He explained that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies in the Scriptures. And he further declared that salvation is found in no other name, but Jesus!
The name of Jesus means “God’s salvation.” This is the only name by which we may be saved. No other name is given. Yet, no other name is needed. Jesus.
June 5, 2018
THE CENTRAL FACTS OF THE GOSPEL
Peter boldly proclaimed the central facts of the gospel to the crowd gathered in the Temple. They gathered in order to see how the man lame from birth, was now able to walk. Yet, Peter’s explanation must have been for more than they bargained. He told them that the lame man had been healed through faith in the name of the One they had killed, but God had raised up! He declared that it was faith in the name of Jesus that made the crippled man whole. This declaration hit many in the crowd like a spiritual lightning bolt, so that many believed.
What were the central gospel facts that Peter preached?
1) “You killed the Author of Life.” Jesus Christ, the Creator and Source of all life, went to the cross to pay for your sin.
2) “God raised Him from the dead.” The resurrection of Jesus is a central fact of the gospel. Life defeated death!
3) “We are witnesses of this fact.” Peter and the apostles were eye-witnesses of everything Christ had done and of his death, burial and resurrection.
4) Faith in the name of Jesus, the Author of Life, is the only way to be saved and receive eternal life.
What irony! What unfathomable mystery! The Author of Life . . . died for our sin? Yet, raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25)? Yes! O yes! These are the central facts of the gospel. We believe the facts. But we put our faith in the Name.
June 4, 2018
FROM FEARFUL DENIER TO BOLD PREACHER
When Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest’s house for questioning, Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus. Yet, fifty days later, after witnessing the risen Lord Jesus and seeing His ascension into heaven, Peter and 120 other believers received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It was on that day that Simon Peter finally became the “rock” (Greek “Petros” means “rock”), which the name Jesus had given him implied. For Peter went from fearfully denying Jesus in the dark to boldly proclaiming Him in the light of day.