Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Catching up...Acts 9-12

Hi everyone!

So I've gotten a little behind in my readings and postings... :\

Here's the next set of chapter observations! Enjoy!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Acts 9
I wonder what Saul's companions thought since they heard everything but didn't see the light. I imagine it was quite a frightening experience, especially once they realized that Saul had been blinded. I also have to wonder how scared Ananias must have been. He knew exactly what Saul had been sent to do and following God's will meant revealing himself to the very man that had come to arrest people like him (or worse). And yet Ananias followed God's commands as did Saul, despite the hardships it might/would bring them. Oh to have such faith in the face of trial! It's easy to see why the Jews in Damascus would want to kill Saul since they probably thought his preaching was a trap meant to capture true believers. But God used Barnabas, mentioned in Acts 4 (sold the field), to act as a liaison and peacemaker between Saul and the disciples. I did notice that Saul has not become Paul yet. For some reason, I had thought this happened sooner, pretty much right after the healing in Damascus.

Acts 10
I think the story of Cornelius is a wonderful example of how our personal faith can impact others. Several times he is referred to as righteous and God-fearing though he is a Gentile. One of his soldiers is called devout, most likely due to the influence of his leader. God even used his faith to teach Peter about God's acceptance of all who seek him, whether Jew or Gentile. I love how God prepares Peter before he even knows what will occur or where he will be sent. I think it's a great example of the cliche "God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called." God readied Peter's heart for the task at hand, opening his eyes to the diversity of God's people.
Peter's message to Cornelius and his family is a great structure example for how to share the gospel with those around us. First he reminds them of what they know and that Jesus was the Messiah. Then he offers up his own testimony of being with Jesus and what he commands us to do (preach and testify) and lays out the necessary steps in order to have a relationship with Christ (believe in him for forgiveness of sins and be baptized). I may need to study this more in order to be better prepared in my own life to share the Gospel.

Acts 11
"Who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?" Wow... How often through my daily thoughts and actions do I stand in the way of God's will being accomplished? I'm afraid to admit that it's probably more often than I think. How much more could I accomplish for the kingdom if I simply let God have his way in my life and trusted him completely? “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
And again, Saul is still Saul and not Paul. I seriously thought his name had changed by this point in the story but I guess I was wrong. I guess we're taught so often about how Saul changed his ways on the road to Damascus and later changed his name to Paul that we come to associate the two events as synonymous when in fact they are chapters apart. Looking forward to pushing ahead to find out when it really does happen since my memory has failed me. :)

Acts 12
After his vision of the sheet with animals coming down from heaven, I don't blame Peter for thinking the angel leading him out of prison was a vision. He probably thought there was no way this could be real and that he could just walk out of prison without the guards seeing him. I love the phrasing about how Peter "came to himself" and "when this had dawned on him". He truly had no clue what was going on, it was all God's doing, not of Peter's own power. Unfortunately, we also have another martyr for the faith, James, the brother of John and one of Jesus' 3 closest disciples, also at the hand of Herod. He was the first of the original apostles to be martyred. I think it was only common sense for Peter to get out of town quickly after telling the believers about what had happened. When Peter was found missing, Herod had the guards killed and I can only assume had he been able to get his hands on Peter, he wouldn't have just been put back in prison. God is truly just though and Herod received his death at the hand of God himself when he allowed the people to call him a "god" and didn't give the glory to God.

Side note: This is not the same Herod that killed John the Baptist or took part in Jesus' trial. This is Herod Agrippa I (10 B.C.-A.D. 44), grandson of Herod the Great (Lk 1:5) and nephew of Herod the Tetrarch (Lk 3:19; 13:31; 23:7-12). Thought others might find this interesting :)

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