God is self-existent, he has always been and will always be. This is the foundational belief that we hold to be true and from this we understand our place and purpose. The only other option is to believe that matter has always been and somehow this matter came into being and had inherent power to change and create life. An impersonal substance somehow was able to create personal beings. If we hold this to be true there is no need for God and our lives can be lived by our own desires because we are free to act as we want. We are not accountable to anyone ,there is no moral code that we must submit to. Once we acknowledge that there is a God then we also must acknowledge that we are accountable to him. Our Creator is a kind and benevolent God who created human beings for his pleasure and to be the objects of his love. He is a good God and everything he does is based in his goodness. True life begins when we understand the first sentence of the Bible and place our lives under the rule of our Creator.
Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
God desires instant obedience from us. Ananias knew God had spoken to him and he needed to obey even though it seemed like a very difficult or possibly dangerous mission since Saul was a know killer among Christians. Opportunities are easily passed over when we are not sure of what God has called us to do. This is why it is so important that we know how God communicates to us so that we respond immediately as he directs us. We can trust him to order our steps and place us where he wants us to fulfill his desires to bring people into freedom.
Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city.
Because to the persecution the church experienced, the believers were scattered throughout the country for their own safety. But even though they were forced to leave they were motivated to take advantage of the opportunity to share the gospel message in their new location. Phillip was one whom God used to bring the gospel to the Samaritans who were a despised group of people among the Jews. The gospel has no boundaries, it is for everyone in every place. Our motivation should always be to bring the good news to everyone. Persecution forced the disciples to spread out but it was used of God to bring the gospel to people who needed to hear it. We can go voluntarily or involuntarily to share the message. God wants people to know him and not be kept in the darkness of lies and deception of the enemy. When we have his passion for souls, we will be motivated to go wherever he wants us to go to share the gospel.
Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.”
Caring for widows was an important ministry of the early church. Many widows did not have family to care for them and the church took on the responsibility of making sure their needs were met. The time came when the leaders recognized that the task was beyond their abilities to meet and be able to carry on with the preaching and prayer that was needed. They recognized their priorities and took action to delegate responsibilities to people who were capable of doing the tasks well. Ministry can become overwhelming as the needs are always greater than our abilities to meet them by ourselves. Others need to be involved and given the authority to do the tasks they are capable of doing so that the priorities of the calling of the minister can be focused upon and fulfilled.
Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.
The early church was growing at a phenomenal rate due to the boldness of the disciples to preach the gospel in spite of the opposition of some of the Jewish leaders. They would not be controlled by the Jewish rulers because they had a new ruler, Jesus Christ, the risen Savior. Their allegiance was first to Jesus and fulfilling what he commanded them to do. They would not be stopped and whatever the Jewish leaders would try to do to prohibit them meant nothing to them. The gospel message was accompanied with many miracles that astounded the people. The gospel message is for the spirit, soul and body of man. God cares about our complete person and has made provision for miracles of healing to continue today.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.
Peter and John became bold witnesses of the truth regarding Jesus as the Messiah. They were direct in their assessment of what the Jews had done to Jesus and made them accountable for their actions which led to the crucifixion of Jesus. The transformation of their lives was evident to the Jews leaders. Their companionship with Jesus and the baptism of the Holy Spirit made them witnesses who would not bow to the demands of the Jewish leaders. They were fearless and were ready to face any consequences of their proclamation of the truth. If we have a true fear of God we will have no fear of man and what he can do to us.
Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.
The gospel message requires a response. If there is true repentance because of the conviction of sin then there will be a refreshing change that will take place in the life of the individual. The past sins will be wiped away and a new life will begin. A new hope will also be revealed concerning the return of Jesus who will restore all things and usher in the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.
Peter empowered by the Holy Spirit boldly preached to the multitude who had come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. He confronted the Jews with the truth of what they had done but also explained that the death they thought ended the life of Jesus was not the final word. Death was defeated because of the resurrection of Jesus. Peter’s preaching brought conviction and repentance and those who truly believed in the fulfillment of prophecies were given a new life through the relationship that was now made available to them.