Praxis: A Study in Acts (Part 2)

We'll continue the Praxis message series on the Book of Acts through May of 2023.

Acts 9:19-31

 — Dale Beaver

Message Notes

Acts 9:19b-22
19b Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20 And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”
21 All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”
22 Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. 

Romans 1:16 
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.

Acts 9:23-25
23 After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. 24 They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. 25 So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.

There is no "fine print" or "exclusion clause" to the call for discipleship.

Galatians 1:16b-18
When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. 17 Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.
18 Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days.

Acts 9:26-27|
26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.

Acts 9:28-30
28 So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him. 30 When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown.

Are you ready for this?

Galatians 1:21-24, 2:1
21 After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. 23 All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” 24 And they praised God because of me.  2:1 Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas; and Titus came along, too. 

2 Corinthians 11:24-27
24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

Acts 9:31
The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.

Never underestimate the influence of one life transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9:1-19 (Paul)

 — Dale Beaver

Message Notes

Acts 9:3-5
3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.  And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!


1 Corinthians 12:27
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

Jesus takes the persecution of his church personally.

Acts 22:12
A man named Ananias lived there. He was a godly man, deeply devoted to the law, and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus.

Acts 9:11-16
11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

The call to trust and obey God doesn't always come with an explanation from God.

An Outline of Paul's Life and Mission
A chosen instrument; vessel
A Messenger to Gentiles: Great and Small
A Messenger to Israel
A suffering servant for THE suffering servant

Acts 9:17-19a
17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Acts 8:26-40 (The first short-term mission trip)

 — Dale Beaver

Message Notes

Acts 8:26 
As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 

Are you _________ about  "going there" with people?

Philip
A Greek-speaking Jewish Christian
In the first group of deacons
An apostolic delegate and pioneering missionary
Called "the Evangelist" in 21:8
Settled in Caesarea with a family

Acts 8:27-28
27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

In what category of "worshipper" does the Ethiopian fit?

Acts 8:29-31
29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.

Acts 8:32-34
32 The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this (Isaiah 53:7-8):
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
    And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.

33 He was humiliated and received no justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 

Acts 8:35-38
35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus. 36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” 38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

Isaiah 56:3-5
3 “Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD say,
    ‘The LORD will never let me be part of his people.’
And don’t let the eunuchs say, ‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’
4 For this is what the LORD says: I will bless those eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy
and who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me.
5 I will give them—within the walls of my house—
    a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give.
For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!

The Ethiopian discovered how Jesus "went there" for him.
 

Acts 8:39-40
39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus (about 20 miles away). He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.

Reflection Questions

As Christ-followers, diversity is not our superpower, unity is. What makes the church a supernatural reality is unity out of great diversity. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead CFC into a stronger place of unity through our diversity.

The gospel compels us to "go there" with people and for people as Jesus "went there" for us. How is the Holy Spirit asking you now to "go there?" Ask Him to speak this clearly to your heart and mind. Ask for the courage to go.

Acts 8:5-17 (Philip)

 — Dale Beaver

Message Notes

Acts 8:5-8
5 Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. 6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. 7 Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

The Good News about Jesus is presented with continuity and consistency.

"The gospel is the good news about the deliverance accomplished by Jesus." 
-F.F. Bruce; Acts


Acts 8:9-13
9 A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. 10 Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One—the Power of God.” 11 They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic. 12 But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed.

Acts 8:14-17
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. 15 As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 20:18-25
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. 19 “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!” 20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”
24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”
25 After testifying and preaching the word of the Lord in Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem. And they stopped in many Samaritan villages along the way to preach the Good News.

What kind of belief in Jesus do you demonstrate?

John 6:26-29
26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.

John 6:30-32
30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

Acts 7:59-8:4

 — Dale Beaver

Message Notes

Acts 7:59-8:1a
59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.1 Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.

Passionate convictions for truth do not negate compassionate responses for those who reject it.

Acts 8:1b-2
1 A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) 

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Acts 8:3-4
3 But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison. 4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.

Be sure you have a clear and accurate understanding of the Good News about Jesus.

Hebrews 2:9
What we do see is Jesus, who for a little while was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone.

Hebrews 12:2b-3
Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

REFLECTION Questions:

  • Now that I have a clear and accurate understanding of the gospel, do I trust that it is true?
  • Am I living with passionate convictions for truth?
  • If I possess passionate convictions for truth, am I expressing them compassionately?