January 31 - Acts 9
THERE'S THAT WORD AGAIN! Remember, every time you see the words related to 'breath' or 'wind' in the Bible, slow down and take a closer look at it, remembering that the original word for 'Spirit' is very similar to it. In v1, the not yet converted Saul doesn't have the Spirit in him, so he was 'breathing out murderous threats.' What a word picture of what life without the Spirit is like!
THE WAYIANS - Before believers were known as Christians (a development we will read about in 11:26), they were known as followers of the Way. Look back at John 14:6 to find out why.
TURN LEFT BY THE YELLOW HOUSE: Sometimes the most obscure facts we read in the Bible are the biggest proofs of its authenticity. It can be tedious to read through lists of difficult to pronounce names we sometimes see, but those lists do so much to root the text in history - those are real people that are being referred to! Today we have another example. V11 says that Judus' house is on 'Straight Street.' If these guys were just making this whole Christianity thing up, would they put a seemingly pointless fact like that in their narrative? Another random fact comes in v43 - Peter stayed with Simon, who happened to be a tanner. After reading these, go back and read Luke's introduction to Theophilus in Luke 1:3 (remember, Luke wrote both his gospel and Acts for Theophilus). Luke is an amazing investigator! It's like he's saying, if you don't believe me, run down to Judas' place over on Straight Street and ask him, or if you're near Joppa, stop in the tanner's shop and talk to Simon... he'll tell you!
PROCLAIM = SUFFERING - Jesus told Ananias in v15 that He had chosen Saul to proclaim His name (remember how we looked at the importance of Jesus' name last week?) But proclaiming doesn't just mean telling others or even preaching, rather Jesus says that Saul (and us) must suffer for Jesus' name! What does this mean for us? How are we to be suffering for Jesus' name in SW Minnesota? (and no, living through winter here is not the right answer)
PEACE AT LAST: We've seen both in Acts & history that persecution is often the best thing for church growth, but in v31, we see the church growing in a time of peace. This is an important model for us, since we live in peace as well. What were the two things that describe them (beginning of the second sentence)? What does a person living in our day and age look like who lives this way?
Sunday we learned to pray constantly following the AAA pattern given by Jesus. We will be practicing that pattern by using what we read each day to guide us in prayer.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: He is the Way, the Truth & the Life (v2)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to make you His instrument to proclaim His name (v15)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Even if what you need is to be knocked back into alignment with God's will as Saul was. What do you need to be an instrument proclaiming God's name?