2018-02-14 / Religion

God calls us to be faithful disciples

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Acts 9:36-43

When someone begins to follow Jesus Christ of Nazareth, life begins to be divinely-controlled. When our Lord began to call his disciples, He called some of the mostunlikely people. The divine record — the Bible — records scenes, showing us some of these acts of divine calling. “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:18, 19. These men had no idea of the twists and turns their lives would take, when “they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”

As these men began their spiritual journey into this “unknown territory,” scenes they witnessed were astonishing. The power of God — Jehovah — began to be seen in some of the most common-place situations. It became easy for them to understand the magnificence of their decision. Time would only tell the greatness that these men would know. These men — and many others — were faithful during the three and one-half years of the earthly ministry of the Son of God.

The Messiah was introduced to the world by the man, John the Baptist. As John preached by the Jordan River, he declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. The original hearers did not understand the full meaning of this declaration. However, as the disciples listened to the teachings of our Lord, they heard words that pointed to his coming death as the fulfillment of the whole sacrificial system of Israel.

The death of one so great did not fit the theology of the religious leaders of that day. It was difficult for those who were near our Lord to accept this divine verdict. As our Savior was dying on the cross, He declared, “It is finished.” John 19:30. This declaration fulfilled His declaration, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matthew 5:17.

These faithful followers of Jesus Christ had seen many mighty miracles being performed. Shortly before our master was crucified, he told the eleven, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” John 14:12.

Forty days after his resurrection (Acts 1:3), Jesus met with his followers. There could have been as many as 500 people present that day. 1 Corinthians 15:6. Our Lord declared to them all, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost (Spirit) is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8.

Luke (see Acts 1:1; Luke 1:1-4) recorded a scene that occurred ten days later — “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place…And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues (languages), as the Spirit gave them utterance (i.e., caused to speak).” Acts 2:1, 4.

Simon Peter was among the one hundred twenty (Acts 1:15) who originally knew this experience. When the crowd of curiosity seekers gathered to see what was taking place, Peter preached the first sermon at the “birthday of the Church.” Little did he know the journey that began with this “first step.”

Peter and John became the first disciples to be arrested as the result of their ministry. Acts 4:3. These two were sent by the other apostles to the city of Samaria to teach these new believers regarding the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:14. These men were the first believers to see others filled with the Holy Ghost by the “laying on of hands.” Luke recorded this scene — “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” Acts 8:17.

Peter must have become an “itinerant preacher.” Luke recorded, “as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.” Acts 9:32. A man, who was paralyzed for eight years was healed. Acts 9:33, 34. This miracle resulted in a revival in that city.

The city of Joppa was about 12 miles from Lydda. One of the faithful believes in that city died. Acts 9:37. This woman, whose Hebrew name was Tabitha — her Greek name was Dorcas — was known for her good deeds. It is important to remember that these deeds were the result of her personal salvation, not the cause.

How these disciples knew that Peter was - is Lydda, we are not told. However, these disciples “sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.” Acts 9:38. Their request was granted. The scene that greeted Peter was one of sadness. “When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber [where the body was]: and all the widows stood by weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made, while she was with them.” Acts 9:39b.

The group present had a singular focus — their loss. Simon Peter had his focus on a “higher plane” — the divine power of God. Peter must have remembered the scene in the house of Jairus. Luke 8:54. Luke recorded, “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” Acts 9:40. The apostle did not keep the information to himself. “And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.” Acts 9:41.

It is important for us to remember that God does not heal people, simply, “to make them feel better.” Luke gave the result of this healing in Joppa — “And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.” Acts 9:42.

What has God done in your life? Have you told others about the works of God in your personal life? We, too, are to be witnesses of the power of God.

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