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Trip 987:  Gentile Ministry Defended; Death of James, Son of Zebedee; Arrest and Deliverance of Peter

Book Cover

THE TIME SEQUENCE BIBLE

READING GUIDE and DEVOTIONS

(As Events Occurred in Chronological Order)

Rix W. Tillman, D. Min.

Reading assignment:  __Acts 11:1 through Acts 12:24

Focal verse(s):  Acts 12:1:  “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.  He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.”

It didn’t take long for the news to get back to Judea that Peter had preached to the Gentiles and they had been saved.  When Peter returned to Jerusalem he was immediately challenged by the Jewish Christians for eating with Gentiles.  Peter shared with them his vision from God, how the angel had appeared to Cornelius and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles in Caesarea at Cornelius’ home.  After hearing Peter’s testimony, the Jewish Christians realized this was from God and they welcomed the Gentiles into the faith.  Suddenly Herod decided to persecute the Christians in order to please the Jews, so he had John’s brother James killed.  James had been with Peter and John on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus.  The Jews seemed so pleased by the execution of James that Herod decided to also have Peter killed, but he had to wait because of the religious holiday called the Days of Unleavened Bread, so he had Peter jailed until he could be executed.  He assigned a squad of 16 soldiers to guard Peter and even had him chained to 2 of the soldiers for extra security.  The Jerusalem church immediately began a prayer vigil for Peter.  The night before Herod planned to have Peter executed he was sound asleep between two of the guards.  An angel appeared and woke him up and ordered him to get up quickly and when he did, the chains fell off!  Peter got dressed and followed the angel past several stations of guards and through an iron gate, which opened like it was electronically controled!  Once outside, the angel disappeared and Peter went to the home of Mary where he knew the believers were praying.  When he knocked at the gate a girl named Rhoda came and when she saw Peter she got so excited that she ran back to tell the others and forgot to open the gate!  The believers thought it was an angel rather than Peter.  They had been praying for Peter’s release and then were surprised when he showed up!  When they finally opened the gate, Peter told them all that had happened and then left.  The next morning the soldiers awoke in the prison to find Peter gone.  Herod had them all 16 men executed for allowing him to escape, then Herod left for Caesarea.  Later Herod was struck dead by an angel of God for letting the people worship him as a god.  Herod executed the disciple James but then reaped what he sowed by being killed by God and spending an eternity in hell!

 

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Trip 986:  Gospel Preached to Gentiles—Part 2

Book Cover

THE TIME SEQUENCE BIBLE

READING GUIDE and DEVOTIONS

(As Events Occurred in Chronological Order)

Rix W. Tillman, D. Min.

Reading assignment:  __Acts 10:19-48

Focal verse(s):  Acts 10:34-35:  “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right’

As Peter was thinking about the vision he had just seen with the sheet and animals, Cornelius’ servants arrived from Joppa and he traveled the next day with them to Caesarea to meet Cornelius.  When Peter arrived in Joppa, Cornelius had gathered a large crowd of his friends and relatives and Cornelius fell down at Peter’s feet, but Peter made him stand up.  Peter told Cornelius that ordinarily he would have not been able to enter his house because they were Gentiles, but that God had sent him a vision to show him that he could be with Gentiles as equals. Cornelius told Peter that he also had a vision when God told him to send for Peter because the Gentiles were hungry for the Word of God.  Peter replied that up to then he had believed that God’s Word was only for the nation of Israel, but he now knew God wanted His Word preached to all people.  He told them that Christ was Lord of all, whether Jew or Gentile, and then told of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  He described how Christ had been crucified and had risen again on the third day and was seen by witnesses who not only saw Him, but ate and drank with Him after His resurrection.  Peter told of how Christ had commissioned the disciples to go and preach the Gospel of His lordship and how all who believe in Him could receive forgiveness of sin as the Old Testament prophets had taught about the Messiah.  As Peter preached, the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentile listeners and they began speaking with tongues and praising God.  The Jewish born believers from Joppa were amazed that Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit without first converting to Judaism.  Peter pointed out that God was no longer making distinction between Jew and Gentile.  Cornelius’ family was baptized and Peter stayed with them several more days.  Notice that regardless of whether you’re Jew or Gentile, when you come to Christ it is always in this order: Hear the Word, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be baptized.  No other order will work and it must be this way in order to be saved because the Bible says faith comes by hearing the Word.  After you hear the Word and receive Christ, then you are filled with the Holy Spirit and follow Christ in believer’s baptism.

 

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Trip 985:  Ministry of Peter: …At Lydda; …At Joppa; …At Caesarea; The Gospel Preached to Gentiles

Book Cover

THE TIME SEQUENCE BIBLE

READING GUIDE and DEVOTIONS

(As Events Occurred in Chronological Order)

Rix W. Tillman, D. Min.

Reading assignment:  __Acts 9:32 through Acts 10:18

Focal verse(s):  Acts 10:15:  “The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’”

Peter had been ministering in Judea and went to Lydda.  In the name of Jesus he healed a man named Aeneas who had been stricken with palsy for 8 years.  This miracle and Peter’s preaching of the Gospel caused many to turn to Christ in Lydda and the entire region.  During the time that Peter was in Lydda, a renowned Christian woman known for helping the needy died in Joppa, so Peter traveled the 12 miles to Joppa and was met by Dorcas’ weeping friends.  He went to her room and prayed for Dorcas, commanding her to rise and she opened her eyes and sat up!  As in Lydda, many people came to know Jesus through this miracle and Peter’s testimony.  Peter stayed for many days in Joppa by the sea with Simon the tanner.  In the town of Caesarea, 30 miles north of Joppa, God sent a vision to a Roman army officer named Cornelius (a centurion who commanded 100 troops) to send men to Joppa and summon Peter at Simon the tanner’s home.  God told him that Peter would give him instructions, so he sent some servants to Joppa for Peter.  While Cornelius’ servants were on the way to Joppa the next day, God sent Peter a vision of a huge sheet coming down from heaven with all kinds of four-footed animals, birds, and reptiles on it.  Some of the animals were permitted to be eaten by Jewish law, but others were not.  A voice commanded Peter to get up, kill the animals, and eat, but Peter said that by Jewish law he was not permitted to eat some of the animals.  The voice told him that whatever God has cleansed was alright to eat.  This vision was a significant turning point in the early history of Christianity, because it would pave the way for the Christian Jews to welcome Gentiles into the faith, dropping the old regulations of what food was proper or improper to eat.  Just as the Jews looked on certain foods as unclean, so they also looked upon the Gentiles as unclean and that would now be changed forever!

 

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Trip 984:  Conversion of Saul (Paul)—Part 2; Early Christian Experience of Saul (Paul)

Book Cover

THE TIME SEQUENCE BIBLE

READING GUIDE and DEVOTIONS

(As Events Occurred in Chronological Order)

Rix W. Tillman, D. Min.

Reading assignment:  __Acts 9:10-31    __Galatians 1:17-24

Focal verse(s):  Acts 9:17:  “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it.  Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’”

 

After Saul’s blinding encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, he had to be led into Damascus where he waited on the Lord to give him instructions.  In a vision God told a man named Ananias to go to where Saul was staying, but Ananias was fearful because everyone knew that Saul of Tarsus was coming to Damascus to persecute the followers of Jesus.  God assured him He had chosen Saul to preach Jesus to the Gentiles, so Ananias went to where Saul was staying, put his hands on him and said that Jesus had sent him to restore his sight and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Immediately scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see.  He got up and was baptized and then ate for the first time in 3 days.  After just a few days with the Christian disciples, Saul began to preach to the astonished Jews in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God!  This was the man who was famous for having persecuted followers of Jesus!  Saul enraged the Jews so much that his followers had to lower him over the city wall in a basket to help him escape to Arabia from the Jews’ attempts to kill him!  The next 3 years Saul was in Arabia and Damascus before he returned to Jerusalem to spend a few weeks with Peter.  Three years before Saul had left Jerusalem as a devout enemy of Christians in order to persecute the church in Damascus, and now he returned after preaching the Gospel in Damascus and Arabia.  In Jerusalem he was befriended by Barnabas who took him to the apostles and reported to them how he had been converted and had boldly preached for Christ.  Saul then debated with the Grecian Jews and they attempted to kill him, so his Christian brothers took him to Caesarea, a seaport about 65 miles away, and then on to his hometown of Tarsus.  Saul spent a considerable amount of time preaching in Syria and Cilicia and the churches in Judea nearly forgot about him entirely, other than reports they received that he was fearlessly preaching the Gospel in Syria.  For a short time the churches in Palestine enjoyed a period of rest from persecution and their fellowships grew greatly in both size and spiritual maturity.

 

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Trip 983:  Proclamation of the Gospel in Judea; Proclamation of the Gospel along the Mediterranean Coast; Conversion of Saul (Paul) in 34 A.D.

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Reading assignment:  __Acts 8:26 through Acts 9:9

Focal verse(s):  Acts 8:38:  “And he gave orders to stop the chariot.  Then both Phillip and the eunuch went down into the water and Phillip baptized him.”

An angel came to Phillip and directed him to leave Samaria during the great moving of the Spirit there and to go on an undisclosed mission.  Phillip obeyed without hesitation, traveling south back through Jerusalem and on out to the desert in Gaza.  As he traveled in the desert, he came upon a caravan of the treasurer of Ethiopia, who was a Jewish convert and had been to Jerusalem to worship.  He was reading from the book of Isaiah and the Spirit of the Lord directed Phillip to ask him if he understood what he was reading.  The Ethiopian eunuch asked Phillip to sit down with him in his chariot and interpret Isaiah 53 which “by coincidence” was a prophetic scripture about the Messiah!  The Ethiopian asked Phillip if Isaiah was speaking of himself or someone else, so Phillip told him how prophesy had been fulfilled through Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Messiah.  The eunuch accepted Christ, stopped the chariot by a body of water, and Phillip baptized him by immersion (Note the phrase, “down into the water”). Thus as the Ethiopian went back to his country, the Gospel was spread to Africa.  This story illustrates the example of being baptized immediately after conversion.  Phillip was immediately transported by the Spirit out of the desert to the town of Azotus north of Gaza where he continued to preach and minister his way back to Caesarea.   Meanwhile, Saul of Tarsus had become well known in Jewish circles as a great persecutor of the followers of Jesus, even going from house to house and having them thrown in jail.  He was on his way to Damascus to search for more believers to arrest when suddenly he was blinded by a great light from the heavens which caused him to fall to the ground.  He heard a voice from heaven saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”, and when he asked who was speaking, the answer was, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Imagine this man who had been persecuting followers of Jesus (whom he thought had been killed) now to come face to face with the voice of Christ from heaven!  Saul asked what the Lord wanted him to do and Jesus told him to go into Damascus and he would be given instructions. The men in Saul’s party heard Jesus’ voice but did not see the light.  Saul, blinded, went to Damascus, and fasted for 3 days.  This event is commonly known by Christians as “The Damascus Road Conversion” and is a major turning point in the history of Christianity.  Paul was a man highly respected in Jewish circles as a great rabbi, an avid persecutor of the followers of Jesus, and politically in line for a high position in the Jewish church.  Converted to Christianity, he would become the writer of the majority of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and a magnificent witness and teacher of the Gospel of Christ!  Saul’s conversion experience and life for Christ is a prime example of why we should go after all of the “hard cases” such as agnostics and atheists because once converted they often make the most avid Christians!

 

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Trip 982:  Great Persecution in Jerusalem; Expansion of the Kingdom in Palestine (32 – 46 A.D.); Proclamation of the Gospel in Samaria 

Book Cover

THE TIME SEQUENCE BIBLE

READING GUIDE and DEVOTIONS

(As Events Occurred in Chronological Order)

Rix W. Tillman, D. Min.

Reading assignment:  __Acts 8:4-25

Focal verse(s):  Acts 8:3:  “But Saul began to destroy the church.   Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.”

Although Saul of Tarsus had openly consented to Stephen’s death, his days of being a persecutor of Christians would soon come to an end.  When Stephen died a martyr’s death for the cause of Christ, God used the new wave of persecution against the church to scatter believers throughout Judea and Samaria.  Phillip went to Samaria and preached the Gospel of Christ and performed miracles of healing and the casting out of demons, and many were saved.  Even a well-known sorcerer named Simon made a profession of faith in Christ and was baptized as a result of following Phillip and being fascinated by the miracles he performed.  However, it seemed he had only gone through the motions of believing in Christ in order to satisfy his curiosity.  The news of the great number of people accepting Christ in Samaria got back to the believers in Jerusalem, so they sent Peter and John to help in Samaria.  When they arrived, they laid hands on the new believers and prayed for the filling of the Holy Spirit in their lives to show that Gentiles were just as welcome in the new church as Jewish converts.  When Simon the sorcerer saw the laying on of hands, he offered the apostles money if they would show him how to perform this “act”.  He obviously wanted to profit from it, thinking this was some sort of magical trick.  Peter told him he was not truly converted and that he and his money would perish, urging him to repent of his sin and pray for forgiveness.  Simon was not sorry for his sin, but wanted to avoid God’s punishment.  It is not known if Simon ever repented, but it is clear that his heart was not right with God.  After Peter and John finished preaching and testifying, they returned to Jerusalem, having established the first church outside of their city.  They returned and preached in many more of the towns and villages in Samaria as the mission work continued to grow.  This is a good pattern for modern day missionaries: First establish a church, then go back and continue to expand the ministry in that area by going out to the outlying areas and starting more new work.

 

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Trip 981:  Death of Stephen—Part 2

Book Cover

THE TIME SEQUENCE BIBLE

READING GUIDE and DEVOTIONS

(As Events Occurred in Chronological Order)

Rix W. Tillman, D. Min.

Reading assignment:  __Acts 7:20-60

Focal verse(s):  Acts 7:59-60:  “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’  When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

As Stephen continued testifying to the Sanhedrin, he drew a perfect picture of how Israel had not only rejected God’s messengers Moses and Joseph, but how they had also rejected the Messiah. He showed that God was not confined to a building such as the temple and then he began a scathing condemnation of the Jewish leaders.  They were the ones who refused to listen to God and their ancestors had persecuted the prophets who told of the coming of Christ.  They had murdered the Son of God.  The man who stood before the court as a defendant was on the offensive and prosecuting them for sins against God!  As the members of the court became enraged and wanted to kill Stephen, he looked up to heaven and told the court that he saw the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  At this, the members of the Sanhedrin put their hands over their ears and began demanding that Stephen be stoned to death for blasphemy.  They took him outside the city walls and stoned him.  Before they stoned Stephen, the men took off their coats so they could throw the rocks and a well-known rabbi named Saul of Tarsus held the coats as they carried out the execution.  Stephen died much like Jesus, because as they stoned him, he prayed aloud, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit“, then kneeled down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord do not charge them with this sin”.  At that, he died.  Stephen became the first martyr and standing by holding the coats of those stoning him was Saul, the devout Jewish rabbi who would be one of the leading persecutors of Christians, going from house to house and having them taken to prison.  Yet this same Saul of Tarsus would encounter Jesus on the road to Damascus and become the apostle Paul, one of the most renowned and devout Christians in the history of the church, writing a great deal of the New Testament!

 

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