Here, Paul is quoting Joel 2:32… showing the readers that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile…God is the same to all people groups. In Acts 2:21, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter also quoted Joel 2:32 to the bewildered crowd that had gathered after hearing their native languages coming from the apostles . Both Paul and Peter stressed that anyone could summons God’s help…any race, any gender, any person. And when that person called on the name of the Lord…they would be heard by God and delivered. For there is no one that is beyond God’s reach…no one that can’t say, “I need Your help God!” and God won’t rescue.
Unity and mutual care for one another…that’s what the early Church did on a daily basis. With steadfastness and faithfulness to the Gospel, they walked out their lives in very practical but focused ways. They approached each day with open hands and open hearts…looking for needs and filling them. The early Church was centered around goodwill towards others…of encouragement and sharing…of loving one another. And the Lord added to their numbers daily. For people saw the Gospel being played out in front of them and they wanted what these Believers had. The world is still looking for that today…for care, and compassion…for love and acceptance. For the Church of the present has the same responsibility and opportunity to impact the world for Christ as the early Church did…maybe even more.
It tells us earlier in Acts that, “All the Believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-45) This is how the early Church functioned…their inward focus was on unity and mutual care for one another. For they took the Lord’s charge to “Love one another” very seriously. And because of everyone’s personal commitment to “see a need, fill a need” …the early Church exploded. So I ask you, what would happen if all Believers committed to the “see a need, fill a need” directive…not waiting for someone else to do it, or thinking it’s only the Pastor’s responsibility? The early Church’s focus was on perfect unity and mutual care for one another…the Church today could only benefit from this same focus.
God’s plan was to save the nations through the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. In this Scripture, Isaiah foretells of this plan and purpose…or what we call the New Covenant. Jesus explained this plan and purpose to Paul on that fateful road to Damascus in Acts 26:18 when He said, “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” And God has faithfully maintaining that covenant with all mankind…offering salvation and life… and the chance to break free of the chains of bondage that hold us prisoner.
Peter and the other Believers with him couldn’t dispute what they witnessed in the house of Cornelius. The Holy Spirit was super-naturally poured out on the Gentiles while Peter was still mid-sentence, telling them about Jesus. Now Peter could have questioned this…”But Lord, these people are very different from us! We don’t have anything in common with them. They’re a different race and culture from us! Are You sure You know what You’re doing?” Sometimes, as fellow-Believers, we can find ourselves asking the same questions of those we find different from us. Yes, we may not share a lot…but we do have a common denominator…faith in Jesus Christ. Together we are one Body…one Church…united in our trust of our Savior…joined together eternally by our faith.
The Ethiopian eunuch had been reading Isaiah 53:7-8 when Phillip came up to his chariot and started telling him about Jesus. Phillip started with the verses the eunuch was reading but then added related verses…threading them together into the Gospel Message. This “stringing pearls of heaven” is an excellent way of telling others about Jesus, and one I have used for a long time. In the front of my Bible I have written the starting point of this 10 point Road to Salvation – Revelation 3:20. Next to each verse is written then the subsequent verse to go to – Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans:5:8, John 3:16-18, John 3:36, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 10:9-10, John 1:12, II Corinthians 6:2. The result is a beautifully told story of need, salvation, and redemption and one you can easily use to share the Good News with others.
Following this divine prompting, Phillip met up with the Ethiopian eunuch traveling home on this desert road and gave him the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. God orchestrates divine appointments all the time for us…all we need to do is be obedient. But so many times we hesitate out of fear and doubt…or because our pride says, “I’m far too important to go down some barren desert road for the Lord…I want to go places where I can be seen and honored!” God said, “Go!” and Phillip didn’t question but rather obeyed…and a life was changed for eternity.
What the Lord requires of me is completely different from what He is calling you to accomplish for Him. But we have all been set apart or selected by God…entrusted with the divine call to share the Gospel Message with others. Yes, your calling is to your co-workers, friends , and family…those in your circle of influence. But it’s also to those people He brings across your path daily…the sad looking waitress, the harried, young Mom waiting in line with you, or the neighbor who’s just received devastating health news. You have been set apart for all them…called to bring the Good News of Jesus to those who desperately need it.
The Believers in Damascus had heard about Saul and his murderous threats against them. Ananias also knew Saul had traveled there with the authority from the Chief Priests to arrest them all. So you can imagine that Ananias had many excuses as to why he shouldn’t go and lay hands on this man…but God said, “Go!” And Ananias went. But somewhere between his house and the house where Saul was staying Ananias had a major heart adjustment. For when he greeted Saul, he called him Brother Saul. Brother meaning Saul had been accepted into the community of brothers and sisters in the Lord.
This is what the Lord said to Saul, (later Paul) on that hot and dusty Damascus road. When we are born again, we have a glimpse of what the Lord has in store for us…visions of the work He wants to accomplish through us. But suddenly fear and doubt take over, for the visions are so large and we feel so small and inadequate. That’s when we need to take a look at this Scripture again, for the Lord says that He was with Paul not only then, but would be into the future… revealing to him more as Paul obediently moved forward. So much, that later in his ministry, Paul proclaimed in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Please remember this, you too can do all things through Him that gives you strength.