Being incarcerated for preaching the gospel of Jesus would be no fun. Especially not if you were being held there until your imminent execution. While that was the case for the Apostle Peter in Acts 12:1-25, God had other plans and these plans not only brought about peter’s release, they also served to spread the gospel message of Jesus even further than before. The whole incident brought two things together as well – the mystery of the will of God and the prayers of His people – somehow they fit together!
We currently live in a super-hero obsessed culture and it can often affect the way we think about sharing the message of Jesus. We can fall into the trap of thinking the apostles are like ‘super-Christians’ and sharing Jesus is for other ‘super-Christians’, [pastors, trained-evangelists, extroverts, people gifted in talking and sharing]. We often think “I’m ordinary, I’m unimpressive, I’m unequipped, I can’t do it, Jesus can’t be expecting anything from me”. But according to Acts 1:1-11, Jesus is the real hero of the book of Acts. We don’t need to be super or a hero, but just need to be used by Him.
The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40 is certainly an intriguing one for many reasons. Who was this eunuch? How was it that he was reading the Old Testament Scriptures? And what can we learn from Philip’s example about being ready to speak the gospel in all circumstances, even the strange ones?
The text of Acts 1:1-11 brings together some of the main events following the resurrection of the Lor Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. After Jesus had spent 40 days with the disciples, teaching them many things and explaining how the main theme of the Scriptures find their fulfilment in Him, while gathered with the disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus ascended bodily into heaven. The disciples were left standing there, gazing with wide eyes and open mouths, when 2 angels appeared to them, giving them a gentle rebuke to get them moving and a strong encouragement that the Jesus they had just seen leave would return again. In a world that seeks to undermine the this truth that all believers know, this return of Jesus (at a day and hour that no-one knows) is the well spring of our great hope.
In this message, Alan Canavan (with Wycliffe/SIL) highlighted the text of Acts 8:26-40 concerning the conversion of the Ethiopian man in the desert, illustrating his message with examples from his experience as a missionary in Papua New Guinea for over 20 years. As a linguist, Alan focused upon the imperative commands in the text and also touched upon the need to trust the Holy Spirit’s prompting to share the good news of the gospel with those outside of God’s Kingdom.
The text of Acts 20 concerns Paul’s meeting with the elders from Ephesus and his parting words to them. From this we can glean what Paul understood to be the role of an elder in God’s church. The elder is to minister to people with sincerity, handle the truth of the Word of God with care and protect the flock of God’s people with truth. No-one is perfectly suited to this high calling in themselves, yet this does not negate the fact the God calls and appoints men to lead His people. In the end being like Jesus the Chief Shepherd is what makes a man suitable for this noble task.