Acts 16:22-24, 40

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten.  After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.  vs. 40  After  Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them.  Then they left.

SEVERELY flogged, imprisoned, lived through an earthquake (vs. 26), yet when they are released, they go to visit their new brothers in Christ and encourage them.  This often happens to us.  In the midst of a severe trial, God will put someone in our path who needs encouraging. When we feel the least able to be an encouragement, God wants us to let Him be the Encourager through us.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit, ministering to others  though us.   It isn’t necessary to “muster up” this encouragement.  Be a willing vessel and watch God do the work.

Acts 15:5, 7-9

vs.5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised  and required to obey the law of Moses.  vs. 7-9 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.  God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.  He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

God made no distinction between Jew and Gentile when the Spirit came upon them.  God didn’t wait until the Gentiles were adopted into the Hebrew faith, learned the rules, and began practicing them.  The manifestation of the Spirit was proof enough for the elders and apostles to understand that nothing was necessary except repentance and God’s grace.  A short time into my walk with the Lord, a respected Christian said to me, “You don’t need to get cleaned up to take a bath.”

Acts 14:15

“Men, why are you doing this?  We too are only men, human like you.  We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.

What a great definition of discipleship or mentoring.  Encouraging people to let go of bitterness, of anger, of hopelessness, to turn from those things and embrace the living God.  Its GOOD NEWS.  The old bitterness, and grudges are worthless to your life in Christ.  They do not add anything, but rather hold you back from life at its fullest.  Embracing the God of the universe by turning from those things, is like turning a light on in a very dark place.

Acts 13:46

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first.  Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

Paul makes it clear.  THEY are deciding they are not worthy of eternal life.  God’s free gift is for all, but if you reject that gift, you are choosing not to be saved, to be justified, to be reconciled.  Rejecting the Gospel is actually choosing damnation for yourself.  Imagine going into eternity with that!

Acts 12:6 & 7

The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.  Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in that cell.  He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

I’m sure the authorities were convinced that Peter was securely imprisoned, but it was God’s will that Peter should be free, so chains, guards and prison doors meant nothing in God’s scheme of things.  What a great passage to remember when we feel bound by the circumstances of life.  If it is God’s will for us to be free of them, it will happen.  If not, He will meet us in the midst of those circumstances giving us hope, strength, and mercy to endure them.

Acts 11:18

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “so, then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

When God first introduced Himself to Israel in the Old Testament, He gave them the law, and taught them how to atone for their sin. It was a matter of sacrificing nearly every day for your own sin or the sin of Israel as a nation.  You would go to the priest, bring your sacrifice and the blood spilled on the altar would atone for your sin.  In vs. 18, the phrase is “repentance unto life”.  One death, Jesus, has paid for it all.  Repentance which leads to salvation is for life, not only life eternal, but true life with God here on earth.

Acts 10:38

…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

In the Old Testament, the blood of sacrifice covered the sins of the people, and they were forgiven.  When Jesus came, He cleansed the sin from within us by changing man’s sinful heart (Ezekial 36: 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.)

In the Old Testament Israel followed God because of the visual , physical manifestations He showed them.  Now, we follow God because His Spirit is within us, teaching, leading and guiding us in our Christian lives.

Acts 9: 15 & 16

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

There is no sugar-coating here.  God is telling Saul up front that he will suffer.  The thought of suffering for Christ did not deter him.

Possessing the free gift of salvation, and knowing Jesus Christ gives us everything we need for life and godliness.  (2 Peter 1:3  His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness …} Salvation isn’t a means to a trouble-free life, a life that has no suffering.  Knowing Jesus, having his love, comfort and peace within us is how we travel through times of suffering, never forgetting that this is not our home.  We are on the way home.

Acts 8:21

You have no part or share in this ministry, because you heart is not right before God.

As Christians, this should be a daily event in prayer – making sure our hearts are right before God.  We want to share in the fruit of the ministries God has given us.  We want to hear the words, “Good and faithful servant”, when we move to our eternal home in heaven.  And then, we will fall at His feet, thanking Him and praising Him for the blessings of life and godliness He imparted to us in our lives.