Acts 7 is devoted to the circumstances surrounding the martyrdom of Stephen, one of the first leaders in the early church. Chapter 8 then begins the consequences of his death: the persecution of the church, led by Saul. The persecution was so intense that many of the believers had to flee Jerusalem in order to escape certain death. Philip, another of the early church leaders, was one of these. He fled to the city of Samaria, where he shared the Gospel, accompanied by great signs and wonders, to the extent that many men and women believed. With his mission accomplished in Samaria, God now tells Philip to turn around and head south toward Jerusalem and then southwest toward Gaza, which lies along the southeastern Mediterranean Sea.
This trip would have been a several day journey on foot. As Philip is on that road to Gaza, he encounters the treasurer of Ethiopia, who had been in Jerusalem but now was on his way home. The Treasurer is reading out loud the section of Isaiah 53 that prophesies the sacrifice of the Messiah. Philip asks him whether he understands what he is reading, the Treasurer opens a door for Philip to share the story of Jesus. The Treasurer receives the message of the gospel with joy and asks to be baptized. Philip baptizes the Treasurer, who happily goes on his way to Egypt and then to Ethiopia.
Read Acts 8:26-40
What is the Easter good news about Jesus Philip shared with the Ethiopian?
How does this passage fit well after Easter?
What stuck out to you in this passage?
What in this reading comforts or convicts you about sharing the good news with others?
Have you ever talked about Jesus with any of your friends or family. How did that encounter make you feel?
Name a person in your life who you know that doesn't believe in Jesus. Take time to pray for that person and that you would have the opportunity to talk to them about what God has done in your life.
St. John records for us 7 places where Jesus says “I AM…”, this is significant because it is the name by which God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush at Mt. Sinai. Today, Jesus states that he is the vine upon which every branch must stay attached to be fruitful. A branch that is detached from the vine is a dead branch. A dead branch does not produce fruit. Instead, it is picked up and either thrown into a fire or fed into a chipper. Similarly, if a Christian is going to be fruitful in God’s Kingdom, he/she must stay attached to Jesus. In other words, one needs to receive nourishment in order to stay alive and be fruitful.
Jesus concludes this discussion by noting that if one abides in Him and His words abide in that person, then that person can ask Jesus for whatever one wishes and it will be done. Upon first glance, this would appear to be a blank check. Upon closer reading, however, one sees that this promise of Jesus is followed by another comment, that the purpose of whatever you wish should glorify the Father, and His will.
Read John 15:1-8
What are some of the promises we see Jesus make in this passage?
Together come up with a definition of abiding, or “to abide”.
Discuss some of the ways we can abide in Jesus?
What does abiding in Jesus look like for you?
What verse(s) in this passage help you remember to abide in Jesus?
Try to memorize this verse this week. Then set an alarm for a week from now to share your memorized verse with your family.
Pick one person you are sitting with to pray for this week. Pray they would abide in Jesus.