A Journey Through the Book of Acts
I am part of a wonderful Facebook Group called: “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” Back in January the Group began studying the Book of Acts. Saints were tasked to review chapters of the Acts. There were some powerful reviews; and I believe that others outside this group could really benefit from the reviews that were made. As one of the Watchmen on the Wall, I noticed that someone failed to keep an assignment; Acts 19. As I read the reviews to include Acts 21, 22, 23, 24, it was very clear that Apostle Paul was being persecuted, jailed and there was a conspiracy to kill him. What did Apostle Paul do to cause some to hate him so much? How did he get to Rome in Acts 28 – The book is broken down in chapters, however to Apostle Paul, surely he did not see this persecution as chapters – Apostle Paul knew that he was in the midst of Spiritual Warfare.
Acts is about the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. Donna Malone invited us to come along and take a stroll through the fiery Book of Acts. On January 3, 2018, Amy Mitchell Bechtol expressed: “The first two chapters record the supernatural empowerment of the Church and tell the story of how God has been revealed in this age. This story is a beautiful miracle of incredible intimacy between us and our Creator. It is the consummation of the marriage between the Church (God's bride) and the Bridegroom. This story continues to play out over and over, again and again, each time a believer accepts Jesus and receives the Holy Spirit. It will continue until it is time for Jesus to return and for us to be swept up into his arms and carried over the threshold into the future with him that he has promised.” Here are some powerful words that Amy shared with us: “And in each holy moment since, when a sinner realizes he is lost and turns to Jesus in repentance, is prompted to follow him in baptism, and receives and submits to the refining power of the Holy Spirit, the miracle of Pentecost continues! As time progresses and believers are commissioned and the Gospel is spread to the ends of the earth, the Kingdom of God grows nearer every day!”
Amy said Acts 2 FIRES her UP!!! “Lord, let your Spirit lead us in the paths you planned for us long ago as a Church and as individuals. Unite us in the sharing of the good news of Jesus! May your kingdom come, your will be DONE on earth just like it is in Heaven! AMEN.”
This is a powerful review of Acts Chapter one and Chapter two. I will give a recap; however I will not focused on the things that were covered in the reviews that were made, however I will cover some of the things that were not covered.
We will begin with Acts 2:36 when Apostle Peter told the multitude that had gathered: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:37, said that they were pricked in their heart and asked: what shall they do! At Acts 2:38, “Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:41 said: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”
It also must be noted there was a change in heart. Acts 2:44 says: “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; (45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”
Surely, if you love God in the name of Jesus this will fire you up. However, today there are still some who do not understand what Peter meant when he said that God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ. Moreover, there are some who do not understand why Jesus said: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins! Moreover, today who teaches that we should have all things in common? Today, there are some who are millionaires from their ministries; however there are some within their assemblies who struggle for week to week.
Renee Melton gave an outstanding review of Acts 3, how God used Peter to heal and work miracles how they preached the gospel and Brenda Hicks Keeton made comments and review of Acts 3 and Acts 4 and she shared to stimulate our minds how God wants to heal us today in other ways as the crippled man was healed.
However, at Acts 4:13 – 21, Peter and John were persecuted for speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus. In fact at Acts 4:18 they were commanded not to speak at all nor teach in the name of JESUS. However, Peter and John hearkened to the commandment of God and continued to teach, preach, and heal in the name of JESUS.
Deborah Mitchell covered Chapter 5 - The story of Ananias and Sapphira. Deborah shared these thoughts – I pray that you will allow them to rest with you. “The case of Ananias and Sapphira illustrates the fact that even devout believers can be led into sin. It was Satan who filled their hearts to lie in this way. Covetousness, hypocrisy and a desire for the praise of men all played in their demise. Giving generously to the needy is one sure way of impressing other Christians. Accordingly, Ananias and Sapphira probably convinced themselves that by keeping some of the money for themselves, they would not be hurting anyone else (and they wouldn't be hurting their own reputations either). They opted to let others think they had given more than they really had. This hypocrisy, and the love of money and praise that motivated it, cost them their lives.”
Renee Melton commented on Acts 5, she made the following observation regarding the shadow of Peter: “But it was not his shadow that healed them. They were healed because they had faith in the power that was working through Peter--the power of Jesus' name. All Jerusalem was watching developments with intense interest. The company of believers was still meeting daily at Solomon's Porch within the Temple, was perhaps the most public place in the city. The multitudes who worshiped at the Temple could stand a distance and watch what the believers were doing. Some of the onlookers had enough courage to step forward and join them, and the church continued to grow. But most of the Jews were afraid to side with Jesus' followers, lest they suffer the wrath of the Sanhedrin. Even the fearful and undecided admired the believers greatly. They "magnified them," recognizing that they had the power of God.”
Acts 5:17 covers how the high priest rose up and the sect of the Sadducess were filled with indignation and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. However, the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and told them to go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. It was very clear that God was with these disciples.
It is not my objective to cover the reviews of every one of the contributors that took a part in our journey through the book of Acts; however I would like to focus on the fact that the Apostles were being prosecuted for preaching, teaching, and healing in the name of Jesus. Sister Valerie Ragland gave an outstanding review of Chapter 12. She pointed out how James the brother of John was killed in Acts 12. Acts 12:5 says, Peter was kept in prison; but prayer was made without ceasing of the church of God for him and God sent an angel of the Lord to set him free. Sister Ragland left this power message for us to reflect on regarding the power of prayer. “How many times have we all “earnestly prayed” for something only to be surprised or doubtful when it actually comes to pass. Seeing this example and knowing that I've actually been at this place before really made me stop and think as well as ask for God's forgiveness. This really shows us what a merciful God we serve. This also brings to mind the response of the disciples when the women come to tell them about the empty tomb of Jesus (Luke 24:11). As God's children, we must always remember that nothing is impossible for Him. His word is true and He delights in answering our prayers that are in line with his will.”
Before turning our attention to Apostle Paul in Acts 19; let us take a look at what Paul was doing before his conversion. Sister Andrea Sullivan Bulter gave an outstanding review of Acts chapter 8. She pointed out how Paul had begun to destroy the Church. She also covered the Ethiopian asking Philip if he would baptize him. Sister Bulter made this observation: “Just because we go to our church of choice (the building that is), attend every service there is, and proclaim we know the Lord, do we really have the Spirit of the Lord in us? We can be baptized but if the Lord has not spoken to us it really doesn't mean much. You can do all the good works BUT the Lord has got to be in you. It gives you a completely different feeling. Doesn't matter how much money you have, how much time you donate, what talent you have, etc... The Lord has got to touch you and when HE is with you others feel it also. God shows up in us. We have to teach the young and make sure they know what they are reading and that they understand what God is saying, and know, "All things are possible with God." Teach them to spread the word of God and help others understand what they are reading. Lord, I pray that you be with everyone as they read this. I pray that You show in me daily. I pray Lord that I would say what You would have me to say. Lord I pray you lay your healing hands upon the ones who need you in any way and make them whole again, if it be Your will. I ask and pray these things in Your name Lord. AMEN!!!!!!!”
It is very important that we take time out to listen and hear what God is saying to us today through other saints of God. It is important to understand that we are compacted onto one another; therefore we must learn to share in love.
Now let us turn our attention to Acts 19. I pray that you will listen very carefully because if you listen very carefully you will see how Satan is causing the division within the Church today.
Acts 19:1-2 says: And it came to pass that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coast came to Ephesus and finding certain disciples, (2) He said unto them Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. Apostle Paul asked them, “Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John’s baptism.” Acts 19:4 says: “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. (5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord JESUS. Then Paul laid hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost.
Apostle Paul took action. He told them the Truth – Baptized them in the name of Jesus – Then Apostle Paul went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God. Listen: Acts 19:9 says: But when divers were hardened, and believed not. But spake evil of that way before the multitude; Apostle Paul departed from the divers and separated the disciples, and disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. It is important to understand what is “that way.” “That Way” is being baptized in the name of JESUS.
Acts 19:10 says this continued by the space of two years; so all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
Moreover God wrought special miracles by the hands of Apostle Paul. Acts 19:17 says the name of JESUS was magnified. Act 19:18-19 says: And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. (19) Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books, together, and burned them before all men, and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
Listen carefully, the value of 50,000 pieces of silver. Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.
Acts 19:20 says: So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. Now here is the question: What did Apostle Paul say, preach, and do to cause this to happen? This should cause all to run to the book of Ephesians and study this work. Some of the things that Apostle Paul wrote: (1) the mystery of God’s will (2) the mystery of the fellowship (3) Jesus as the Son of God unto a perfect man and measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
It is important also to note that Apostle Paul was being led by Holy Spirit. Act 19:21 -22 says: After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. (22) So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
However, Acts 19:23 says: And the same time there arose no small stir about “that way.”
Apostle Paul also taught that there be no gods made by hands. However, some worshipped the great goddess Diana, and some made their living as workmen of the craft. There was much concerns and confusion regarding this teaching. However, it was finally concluded that if the craftsmen had any matter against any man it must be handled under the law. Apostle Paul had expressed his desire to see Rome. Surely, he did not plan to reach Rome through a succession of charges and persecution, apprehensions, and beatings. However it was God taking him on the journey. At Matthew 24:9, Jesus warned us how they will deliver us up to be afflicted and how they would hate us for his name sake. We are commissioned to take this glorious gospel throughout the world.
Sister Deborah Mitchell covered part of Apostle Pauls’ journey at Acts 20. Here is part of her observation. “He didn't have computers, email, copy machine, or other modern tools that make communication easier. He spent many years of his ministry in prison, unable to move about freely. He met with fierce opposition both from outside and inside the church. And yet, after 25-30 years of ministry, he left a lasting impact on the world, not only in his time, but also for all times. How did he do it? It can be explained as God's sovereign working through this man. If you know Christ as Savior and Lord, you desire to have God use you to make a difference for Him in the world. Paul taught that God has allotted to each of us various gifts and measures of faith. As each of us has been given different gifts, we will experience differing results, and we will not see the same results as Paul or another believer. We can learn from Paul and seek to apply biblical principles to our own lives and to whatever gifts and calling God may have given us. How does God want to use me to impact my world for Jesus Christ? This is a question I ask myself frequently. The answer will differ with each of us, depending on our unique spiritual gifts and circumstances.”
At Acts 20:28-31, Apostle Paul left this message for us today. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood. (29) For I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (31) Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Surely, the Lord was with Paul throughout his journey to Rome. Sister Amy Mitchell Bechtol shared words of wisdom in her review of Acts 23. Here are some of the words that God put on her heart. Amy writes: “God had a greater purpose for Paul than "showing up the high priest." He reveals to him that his destination is Rome, which will lead him all the way to Caesar's court. Sometimes the war effort is greater served by conceding specific battles.
Now, conceding a battle does not mean abandoning your beliefs. We are not called to submit to the extent that we are doing wrong in God's eyes. He is the ultimate authority. If you continue reading in Acts Chapter 23, you see that Paul does not compromise his beliefs; He simply switches tactics. Instead of accusing those with whom he disagreed, he simply presented his belief. Instead of alienating everyone and uniting them against his message as he had done in the beginning, this new approach ignited debate and discussion between the members of the court.
As God's timetable moves forward and Christians find themselves increasingly opposed to the culture around us, we will be tempted by the Enemy to fight in the wrong way. I pray that we remember that our enemy is not really our boss or that political candidate. I urge us to follow the example of Jesus and Paul and use love and respect and humility as our weapons. Let us press in and pray for discernment about which battles to concede and when we should boldly state our beliefs. Keep our focus on Who we are for and not simply on what we are against. Let our love for even those who mistreat and misunderstand us lead others to Jesus. Give us a heart for winning people instead of a burden for winning battles.”
At Acts 23:11 records, “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem. So must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Surely there was a conspiracy against Paul. In Acts 23:12-13, we find that more than forty Jews had banded together and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat or drink till they had killed Paul.
In summary we find in Acts 21, that the Apostle Paul was apprehended in Jerusalem. Paul had to go before councils. Acts 24, Apostle Paul had to go before Felix, the governor. It was noted at Acts 24:22 that Governor Felix had a more perfect knowledge of “That Way!” Acts 24:22 says: “And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. (23) And he commanded the centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him. At Acts 25, Apostle Paul had to go before Festus. Apostle Paul requested to go before Caesar. At Acts 25:22 King Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. At Acts 26, King Agrippa permitted Paul to speak for himself. After King Agrippa heard Paul; at Acts 26:28 says: “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. At Acts 26:32, King Agrippa said unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
Prophetess Nadine Richmond reviewed Chapter 27 regarding Apostle Paul and other prisoners being transported to Italy by ship. Prophetess Nadine made the following observation:
“As I was reading this chapter I asked God to give me something for the people. This chapter is about the storm that arose as Paul and other prisoners were being transported. Just as there was a natural storm there are also storms in our lives. One moment everything is fine and the next moment BAM, something happens and we find ourselves in a storm. There is trouble over here, trouble over there, trouble, trouble, trouble everywhere.
Jesus never promised us a bed of ease, he said we would have trials and tribulations but he also said in that Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Jesus said he has prayed for us that our faith does not fail us.
The goal of Satan our enemy is to steer us off course, to cause so much despair, heartache and turmoil in our lives that we will throw our hands in the air and say, “I surrender.” This is too hard, I give up.
What we must understand is that God allows storms but it is the enemy who tries to destroy us and sometimes as in the case with the ship Paul was a prisoner on we open the door to storms in our lives. Paul warned them in verse 10 that the voyage was dangerous and that the ship would be destroyed but without the loss of life. However, they behaved like many of us when warning comes our way. They didn’t listen.”
At Acts 27:41 says the ship ran aground; (42) says: the soldiers counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. (43) But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land. (44) says: …And it came to pass that they escaped all safe to land.
Surely, this was the favor of God in the name of JESUS. Again, allow me to remind you At Acts 23:11 records, “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem. So must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Therefore it is a move of God to get Apostle Paul to Rome.
Sister Donna Malone closes out the study and gives a review of Acts 28. Paul and the others reached the island of Melita where they were welcomed and treated royally. Sister Malone stated: “It occurs to me that Paul's life in the Book of Acts was either being imprisoned and beaten or treated like the man he was, a Man of God. More often the latter than former. The chapter goes on to reveal another disagreement among the people concerning Paul. Also, there were many healings on the island until all who were sick made their way to be healed.
The verses which speak boldly to me from this chapter are:
- "Go to this people, and say, "Hearing he shall hear, and shall not understand, and seeing he shall see, and not perceive. 27) For the heart of the people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they shall see with their eyes or hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."
Sister Donna Malone, the Administrator of the Group, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John closed with this thought.
“Is that not a frightening passage? The Good News, the Gospel is preached to a people who have WILLINGLY shut their ears, closed their eyes and hearts to the Truth!
Those words were given a long time ago by The Prophet, Esasais from the Holy Spirit to the people.
Does this description sound familiar? Does it sound like our generation? It does to me. Think about it.
Father, in the richness and holiest Name of Jesus, I pray for everyone, including myself, who take your Word for granted. We, who listen with half closed ears, ears and hearts to the call to walk in The Righteousness of your Resurrected life and the Gift Of The Holy Spirit who always abides in a welcoming vessel. Teach us, oh Lord, as we humble ourselves before you.
There were some profound teachings in the Book of Acts regarding the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many missed the true message regarding “THAT WAY.” Today, the greatest divide within the Church is regarding “THAT WAY.” What is “THAT WAY?” At Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” “THAT WAY” is the WAY that Apostle Paul explained in Acts Chapter 19 when he met these disciples and Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed; however these disciples did not know about the Holy Ghost. Apostle Paul baptized them in the name of Christ Jesus and laid hands on them and they received the gift of Holy Ghost.
The book of Acts clearly shows that God is faithful to every one of his promises. God will show us what is to come, and lead us unto all Truth; God has given us power to use his name.