12 minutes | May 26, 2023
Episode NT62 - On To Rome
Potential disaster comes upon Paul and his travelling companions as Paul is escorted by Roman soldiers to Rome. By travelling at the wrong time of year, a terrible storm arises and threatens the lives of everyone on the ship. But... God is still in control...
12 minutes | May 19, 2023
Episode NT61 - A Wicked Oath & A Trial Before Rulers
The Jews hated Paul so much that some of them were prepared to take an oath to murder him! But God in His Grace saved Paul, which led to trials and a long imprisonment. But eventually, Paul found himself telling rulers about Jesus
12 minutes | May 12, 2023
Episode NT60 - Uproar at the Temple
As Paul tried to show the Jews that he upheld the law, enemies of Paul watched him, looking for an opportunity to cause him trouble and, within no time at tall, they had practically the whole of Jerusalem in uproar as they accused Paul of a very serious crime. So bad was the situation, that the Roman garrison had to be called out to save Paul not once or twice, but 3 times in 2 days! However, the Lord stood by Paul to encourage him.
12 minutes | May 5, 2023
Episode NT59 - Paul in Ephesus
Moving on to Ephesus, the Lord starts to do amazing things and the name of the Lord Jesus is held in very high regard as the Lord confirms Paul's message with extraordinary miracles! Others who don't know Jesus try to use His Name for their own purposes and end up suffering the consequences. However, opposition comes again, this time in the form of a metal working guild who see sales of their hand made idols fall as people turn away from images to the Real Living God. Because of their fall in trade, they start a riot of sorts which, thankfully, doesn't get too out of hand.
7 minutes | Apr 28, 2023
Episode NT58 - From Corinth
This story is based on Acts chapter 18 verses 18 to 28 The time came for Paul to leave Corinth, and as he travelled he spent time in Ephesus and hoped to return some day. Then as he hurried back to Jerusalem, a young man named Apollos arrived in Ephesus, eventually meeting some of Paul's travelling companions!
10 minutes | Apr 21, 2023
Episode NT57 - Corinth
This story is based on Acts chapter 18 verses 1 to 17 Having spent time in Athens, Paul heads to Corinth, a major city in the Roman Empire. And, as he talks about Jesus, he receives reassurance that Jesus is with him and will bless his work in that city.
10 minutes | Apr 14, 2023
Episode NT56 - Paul in Athens
This story is based on Acts chapter 17 verses 16 to 34 and Chapter 18 verse 1 Having been left alone in Athens, Paul takes a walk around the city, and his heart sinks as he sees all the idols. However, an opportunity to talk about Jesus to the leaders of the city soon presents itself.
8 minutes | Apr 7, 2023
Episode NT55 - Thessalonica & Berea
This story is based on Acts chapter 17 verses 1 to15 Two very different cities with two very different responses to the message Paul and Silas brought.
12 minutes | Mar 31, 2023
Episode NT54 - Trouble in Philippi
This story is based on Acts chapter 16 verses 6 to 40 Paul arrives with Silas in Philippi where they have to face significant troubles as they take the good news about Jesus to new areas.
9 minutes | Mar 25, 2023
Episode NT53 - Parting Company
This story is based on Acts 15:36 to chapter 16:5 Paul and Barnabas have a falling out, but even with this serious problem, God was still in control and moving to build His Church.
11 minutes | Jul 5, 2021
Episode NT52 - An Important Decision
Story 52 – An Important Decision Based on Acts chapter 15 verses 1 to 35 Previously, the young church had had to face attacks from the enemy, such as when the apostles were beaten for talking about Jesus, or when Stephen was murdered because he loved Jesus and wouldn’t stop sharing with others that Jesus was the Messiah. Then, even greater trials came as Herod had the apostle James murdered and sought to do the same thing to Peter, only for the Lord to send an angel to free Peter and save the church from sorrow upon sorrow. However, in all these attacks and trials, even though the church suffered and was hurt, at the same time it overcame and grew – certain of the love of the Lord Jesus and knowing that nothing could happen to them that was outside His control. Since that time, Paul and Barnabas had been sent out from a church at Antioch in Syria and had travelled to quite a few places to tell Jews and Gentiles about Jesus, establishing churches in places where there had never been any before. Although, as we know, there had also been a lot of opposition from those who refused to believe their message about Jesus. But then, perhaps one of the greatest threats to the church arose and found itself the focus of attention for that church in Antioch of Syria. Because, into the church, which was made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers, came Jewish teachers from Jerusalem with a message that caused a great deal of pain and confusion. They taught that a person wasn’t really saved unless, in addition to believing in Jesus, they were also circumcised and obeyed the Jewish law given to Moses. In other words, they were saying that believing in Jesus wasn’t enough for the Gentiles - that they needed to become Jews as well. Needless to say, this caused a lot of pain and suffering for the believers in Antioch who had always thought that they were saved simply by believing the message about Jesus dying in their place on the Cross and that His death was enough to save them from the punishment they deserved for the sin and failure in their lives. These Jewish teachers were in sharp disagreement with Paul and Barnabas who did not accept what they were saying and argued strongly against them. It was a situation that couldn’t carry on and needed to be urgently resolved. So, wisely, the leaders of the church in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas, along with a number of other people, to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders of the church there to get the issue resolved once and for all! As they travelled to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas met with the various churches along the way and encouraged them by telling them all about the things the Lord had done during their missionary journey, and that Gentiles, too, were believing their message. When the churches heard their news, they were all filled with great joy. When they arrived in Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders, and they were able to spend some time telling them about what had happened on their missionary journey. This raised the question about what was required by Gentiles in order to be saved. So, the same issue that had been raised in Antioch was now being raised in the church in Jerusalem, as some believers who were also Pharisees stood up and said, ‘These Gentile converts need to be circumcised and told to obey the teachings of Moses,’ which, of course, Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed with! So, the leaders of the church gathered to discuss the issue in some depth! It was a long discussion but, at the end of it, the leaders came back to the church to deliver their findings. Peter was the first to speak and started by reminding the gathered church that, some time ago (probably 10 years or so earlier), God had chosen him to be the person through whom the gospel would be preached to the Gentiles. This happened when Peter went to see the Roman soldier, Cornelius, who had been given a vision of an angel...
12 minutes | Jun 28, 2021
Episode NT51 - Iconium, Lystra and Back Home
Story 51 – Iconium, Lystra and Back Home Based on Acts chapter 14 Nearly 100 miles away to the south-east of Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas eventually came to the town of Iconium where a very similar thing happened to what they’d just experienced in Pisidian Antioch! The habit of Paul and Barnabas when arriving in a town was to go the Jews and preach in their synagogues. The reason they did this was that, if they’d started by going to the non-Jews, or Gentiles as they were known, then the Jews would never have listened to them or allowed them to visit their synagogues. So, to ensure their message would be heard as widely as possible, they always started at the Jewish synagogues. And, as in Pisidian Antioch, there was a strong reaction to their preaching, as a large group of both Jews and Gentiles believed their message. Also, as in Pisidian Antioch, there was a resolute group of Jews who refused to believe the message and set out to gather others to their way of thinking and poison their minds against Paul, Barnabas and the new believers. The opposition to Paul and Barnabas and their message was both intense and persistent, but they didn’t run away. Instead, they stayed in the city for a long time and spoke boldly about all the wonderful things the Lord had done. And, to confirm that the message they brought was from Him, the Lord gave them power to do miraculous signs and wonders - outstanding evidence that their message was true! Yet even that wasn’t enough to change the minds of those who’d decided to reject the message. Instead, these disbelieving people worked hard to convince others to dismiss the message, until the whole town was divided, with some following the disbelieving Jews and others following Paul and Barnabas! After a long stay in that divided city, those who hated the message and who especially hated Paul, got some of the city leaders on their side. With those leaders, they gathered a mob with the aim of attacking Paul and Barnabas and stoning them to death. Stoning is a Jewish form of execution reserved for people who blaspheme, which means to speak falsely about God! Thankfully, somehow the believers and Paul and Barnabas heard about the attempt on their lives and fled, managing to escape to the smaller backwater town of Lystra. And, even though their experience had been tough at both Iconimum and Pisidian Antioch, they continued to tell everyone the Good News about Jesus. When they arrived in Lystra, things seemed to go very well at first. There probably wasn’t a synagogue in Lystra, or many Jews in the town, and so Paul and Barnabas started telling the locals about Jesus. And, as they spoke of Jesus, Paul and Barnabas came across a man whose feet had been crippled from birth so that he’d never walked. This man sat and listened to Paul preach and, as he listened, Paul realised this man had the faith needed to be healed. So, in a similar way to how Peter and John had spoken to the crippled man outside the temple in Jerusalem all that time before, Paul called out to the man in a loud voice, ‘Stand up on your feet!’ At that word from Paul, the man leapt to his feet and started walking around! As you can imagine, when the crowd saw what Paul had done, they were completely amazed and started shouting out in their local Lycaonian language (a language neither Paul nor Barnabas understood), ‘These men are gods in the form or human beings.’ Now, it just so happened that there was an ancient local story about the so-called gods of Zeus and Hermes having come to earth as mortal men and being refused shelter by everyone except an impoverished older couple. And, as a result, the older couple had been rewarded, but everyone else who’d refused to give them shelter – a 1000 households or so – were destroyed by a flood. So, when the locals thought that the gods had come down in a similar way to that old story - thinking Barnabas was Zeus and Paul, the chief speaker, was Hermes - they sprung into action,...
11 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
Episode NT50 - Paul and Barnabas at Pisidian Antioch
Story 50 – Paul and Barnabas at Pisidian Antioch Based on Acts chapter 13 verses 13 to 52 It was time for Paul (who used to be known as Saul) and Barnabas, along with John Mark, to move on. So, leaving Cyprus, the place Barnabas knew so well, they decided to head up to the area Paul was from. Sailing from the Cyprian port of Paphos, they took the 100 mile or so sea voyage up to Asia Minor, probably landing at Attalia, and then travelled about 12 miles inland to Perga. However, when they reached Perga, they suffered a painful setback, as John Mark abandoned them and left for Jerusalem. Quite what was happening, we don’t know. Maybe John Mark missed his home and his mother? Or maybe he didn’t like the way things were changing, as Paul took more and more of a leading role and his cousin Barnabas less? It could have been that they’d come to a new and potentially dangerous place and John Mark felt worried? We’ll never know but, even as they suffered this loss, it seemed that other things were also going wrong as, instead of staying in Perga, they quickly left that area and headed north. It seems that Paul may have been quite ill, as he talks about that in one of his letters at another time. So, instead of staying in Perga, they went on quite a long and arduous journey on dangerous roads and through mountain passes that were well known for being infested with robbers and bandits. But the advantage of the journey, especially if Paul was ill, was that it took them away from the heat of the south Galatian plateau and up to the cool and no doubt bracing air of the Taurus plateau, about 3,500 feet above sea level. And so, they eventually came to a place called Antioch. Obviously, it was a different Antioch from where they’d originally started, and was known as Pisidian Antioch, to distinguish it from the Antioch that had sent Paul and Barnabas out on the mission they were now on. On their arrival at Pisidian Antioch, and no doubt when Paul was well enough, on the Sabbath day – the day when Jewish people always gather together to worship, and which is our Saturday – they went to the Jewish synagogue in town. The service followed its usual pattern and it was a custom that, if a visiting Rabbi or Jewish teacher came to the synagogue, they’d be asked if they’d speak to the gathered people. Now, Paul was a teacher and they would’ve probably known that from the type of clothing he wore. So, at the appropriate moment in the service, the leaders of the Jewish synagogue sent a message to Paul and Barnabas to ask if they had a message to encourage the people and, if so, to speak in the meeting. Well, as you can imagine, Paul and Barnabas did have a message, all about the wonderful news of God’s love through Jesus, and were more than happy to share it with them. It was Paul who did the actual preaching and he was a man who knew how to preach and had lots of experience. Starting by standing and making a hand gesture to let the people know that he had something to say that was worth listening to and, knowing that he was talking to mainly Jews, he began by talking about a subject close to their hearts, Jewish history. ‘Men of Israel and everyone else who fears God, listen to me,’ he started. Then, Paul skilfully pointed out how Jesus was the Messiah that Jewish history had always been pointing towards. He talked of their ancestors and of the time the people of Israel had lived in slavery in Egypt and how God had saved them from their servitude. He reminded them of God’s patience with the Israelites while they’d spent 40 years in the wilderness after they’d left Egypt. Then he talked about how God had helped them destroy seven mighty nations so that they could have the land of Israel as their inheritance and that all this had taken 450 years - no doubt adding together the 400 years in Egypt, 40 in the wilderness and 10 to take full possession of Israel. Paul then reminded the people of how Israel had asked for a king and how God had...
10 minutes | Jun 14, 2021
Episode NT49 - Barnabas and Saul Sent Out
Story 49 – Barnabas and Saul Sent Out Based on Acts chapter 12 verse 25 to chapter 13 verse 12 So the relief mission to Jerusalem took place and the church continued to grow even though people like Herod Agrippa tried to stop it. These people who opposed the church couldn’t stop the spread of the Good News and the growth of the church anymore than they could hold back the sun as it crossed the sky, for, when God’s at work, no one can oppose Him and succeed. Once the relief mission was complete, Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch and took along with them John, who was also known as Mark and sometimes called ‘John Mark’. It was in John Mark’s mother’s house that the prayer meeting for Simon Peter had been held and where Rhoda the servant girl worked, who’d left Peter standing outside the door! John Mark was also Barnabas’ cousin. The church at Antioch was blessed with good leaders including both prophets and teachers. These leaders were Barnabas, of course, and Simeon who was probably from Africa as he was known for being black. Then there was Lucius from Cyrene, which is also in Africa, and Manaen who was an interesting person as he’d been brought up with Herod Antipas in the household of Herod the Great! Manaen was probably raised as Herod Antipas’ foster brother but, thankfully, he’d turned to the Lord and was now part of the godly leadership of the church. And, last but not least, there was Saul. So the leadership consisted of 5 men, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul, who took the responsibility for teaching, leading and serving the church very seriously as they worked not to please people, but the Lord. Now, while they, and probably the whole church with them, were worshipping the Lord and fasting, they were no doubt seeking the Lord’s provision to build His church. And, the Holy Spirit spoke to them saying, ‘I want you to set apart for Me both Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’. To be honest, the calling seemed rather vague. What specifically did God want them to do? Where did God want them to do this work? In some ways, it was a call similar in nature to God’s call to Abraham many many years before; a vague call to go, with no specified destination. However, the church understood that the key wasn’t knowing exactly what and where so much as obeying a clear call from God to go - and then going – trusting God that He would make things clear as they went, in a similar way to Abraham. It was a call to move forward in faith, to trust God that He would lead and help them. The church and these godly leaders responded at once to what the Holy Spirit had said. Firstly, with more prayer and fasting, no doubt to confirm the message from God and to ask for His blessing on these two men. And then, they laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul to indicate that they identified with them in the work that the Lord was calling them to do. That work would no doubt involve telling people about Jesus in the parts of the world that God would take them to. So, the leaders released these faithful men out on mission. And, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul went to the nearest port, a place called Seleucia, some fifteen to sixteen miles away, and took passage on a ship bound for Cyprus. Cyprus was actually a good place to start this outreach to people who had never heard about Jesus, not least because it was where Barnabas had grown up and came from. For Barnabas at least, it would be a familiar place and so a good starting point. Also, as well as being quite close to Antioch and so easy to reach, there was a large population of Jews in Cyprus, large enough for there to be several synagogues across the island. So, they arrived at the port of Salamis on the east cost of Cyprus and there they started the work of telling people about all God had done for them in Jesus. Beginning in the Jewish synagogues, they travelled all over the island until they came to Paphos on the west...
11 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
Episode NT48 - Peter in Prison
Story 48 – Peter in Prison Based on Acts chapter 12 Sometimes terrible things happen and we don’t know why, we just have to trust God that He knows, the situation isn’t out of His control and we can trust Him no matter how bad things get. And things were pretty bad. You see, for some reason, King Herod Agrippa, the grandson of that awful King Herod the Great who’d wanted to kill the infant Jesus when he’d heard the ‘King of the Jews’ had been born in Bethlehem, got it into his head to follow his evil grandfather’s ways. He began to persecute the church, arresting some of the believers and causing them harm. What we found particularly hard was what he did to James, John’s brother. Herod Agrippa had James killed with a sword, cutting off his head. It was one of those times when we just had to say to the Lord, ‘We don’t understand, but we do trust You’, as we mourned his death. But our enemies, the Jewish leaders, and many of the Jewish people who’d refused to accept that Jesus is the Messiah, were delighted when they heard that Herod had killed one of the apostles; one of those who’d lived with Jesus, walked and talked with Him and seen all the amazing things He’d done and heard all the wonderful words He’d spoken. A man, no less, who’d met the risen Lord Jesus and was a witness to His resurrection. And, when Herod realised the Jews were happy that he’d had James killed, and because he needed the Jews to like him because of some political trouble he was having with Rome, he decided to do more terrible things to the church, to fight against it, just like Saul had done. So, he had me, Peter, arrested. He didn’t plan to give me a fair trial or allow me to put my own case forward. No, what he planned was a nice little show trial before I was to be publicly executed, no doubt to the delight of the Jews - because pleasing the Jews meant Rome was happy. You’d have thought I’d have been terrified by the prospect of death as I lay chained to, not one, but two soldiers who slept in the cell with me - while more soldiers stayed on guard outside my cell. In fact, Herod had ordered four sets of four soldiers to guard me, to make sure no one could rescue me and that I couldn’t escape. But I had no plans to try and escape; in fact, I wasn’t terrified at all. You see Jesus Himself had told me that I would die a death that was anything but natural and maybe this was it? So, I had no need to worry, He was in control. And what made me even more certain was that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the church was praying for me, praying that the Lord would do … well, whatever the Lord felt was right. (PAUSE) One of the things about being able to trust the Lord no matter how bad the situation is that you don’t have much problem going to sleep. So, the night before I was to be paraded before my enemies and put to death, I fell asleep knowing that, whatever happened, God was in control. There I was, sound asleep and chained between two guards, when I felt a sharp prod on my side. I opened my eyes to see what was happening. There was a really bright light in the cell and standing beside me was an angel from the Lord. Now, I ought to make it clear that I’d been so fast asleep, that I didn’t think I’d woken up properly! I thought it wasn’t real and must be some kind of vision from the Lord. Anyway, then the angel said to me, ‘Quick, get up!’ So I started to sit up, feeling extremely dopey. And, as I sat up, the chains that were holding me to my captors just fell off while they stayed sound asleep! And then the angel, with great patience, started to organise me. ‘Now get dressed,’ he said, and I got dressed. ‘Put your sandals on,’ he said, and I put my sandals on. ‘Now put your coat on.’ he continued. So I picked up my coat and put it on, and then he said, ‘Follow me.’ So I started to follow him, still not sure if I was dreaming! Well, we walked straight out of the cell, past the first set of guards and then past the second set until
9 minutes | May 31, 2021
Episode NT47 - The Church at Antioch
Story 47 – The Church at Antioch Based on Acts chapter 11 verses 19 - 30 After the death of Stephen, many believers were scattered out from Jerusalem during the persecution of the church. As well as Philip travelling to the area of Samaria, others continued their travels far outside the land of Israel. Some went south to Egypt and beyond, even ending up, to the west of Egypt in Cyrene, North Africa. Others headed north of Israel into the area beyond Joppa and included the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Still others travelled to the island of Cyprus, while some ended up in the city of Antioch in Syria, which at that time was probably the third most important city in the Roman empire behind Alexandria in Egypt and of course Rome itself. As they travelled, these believers shared the good news about Jesus, but only with other Jews. However, some of them, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, arrived in Antioch and started to share the good news about Jesus and all He had done with Greeks as well as Jews. These men were Jews who probably hadn’t lived in Israel but, instead, they’d lived among Greeks all their lives and understood the culture and mindset of the Greek speaking people. So, instead of speaking about Jesus as the ‘Messiah’, which wouldn’t have meant a great deal to the Greeks, they talked about the LORD Jesus - sharing about his origins, His life, His death and resurrection. At that time, it would have been unlikely that they would have heard about what the Lord had done for Cornelius and his household through Peter but, somehow, the Holy Spirit was still prompting these men to share what they knew widely. And, the Lord blessed their message to these Greeks, causing a great number of them to firstly believe the message they were given about the Lord Jesus, and then to turn away from their old lifestyles and start living in a way that would please Jesus. In other words, they became true believers and members of the church. Of course, you can’t keep these kinds of things silent for long because of people travelling around. And, as they travelled, they told others about what was taking place in Antioch. This in turn led to a report of what was happening in Antioch reaching the attention of the church in Jerusalem. By this time, Peter had met with Cornelius and the church had begun to understand that Jesus had come not just to save the Jews but also everyone else who would believe in Him and follow Him. Therefore, instead of reacting with a heavy hand, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem chose to send someone to Antioch who would both understand what was taking place and be a help and encouragement to the church. So, they chose to send Barnabas because he was from Cyprus and had been given the name Barnabas because of his God-given character of encouraging and building people up. His original name was Joseph, and he was a Jewish Levite from Cyprus but, because of his character, everyone knew him as Barnabas. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch, he saw the goodness and power of God at work and rejoiced! And, living up to his name once again, he encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with fully devoted hearts. Barnabas was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith and, because of his visit and all the Lord was doing in Antioch, a vast number of people became followers of Jesus. However, another feature of Barnabas was that he was a humble man and, seeing the vast work going on in Antioch and recognising the need of the church there for good teaching, he decided to head up north to Tarsus to go and look for Saul. Now, Saul had been sent to his home city of Tarsus some years before after people had tried to kill him in Jerusalem. It seemed that, during that time, Saul had suffered a lot, even being disowned by his family. This made finding Saul hard work, but Barnabas was tenacious in his search and, when he eventually found Saul, he brought him back to Antioch with him. Barnabas no doubt...
14 minutes | May 24, 2021
Episode NT46 - Peter and Cornelius
Story 46 – Peter and Cornelius Based on Acts chapter 10 verses 1 to chapter 11 verse 18 In Caesarea, a Roman officer called Cornelius, a captain in the Italian Regiment, knelt in prayer. He and all his family feared God and tried to live good lives. He regularly gave to those in need and prayed to God. But today, as he knelt to pray at the usual time of three in the afternoon, suddenly, he saw a vision of an angel, sent from God. Filled with terror, Cornelius listened as the angel delivered his message! ‘Cornelius,’ the angel said. Hardly able to breathe, Cornelius replied, ‘Yes, sir, what do you want?’ ‘Your prayers and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God! Now, send some men down to Joppa to find a man there called Simon who is also known as Peter. This man is staying with Simon the tanner who lives near the sea. When the men get there, tell them to ask Peter to come and visit you.’ No sooner had the angel gone than Cornelius was up on his feet rushing to find his servants. ‘Quick!’ he called to two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his personal attendants. ‘You must come and hear what’s just happened – it’s incredible!’ Then he told them about the angel and the message he’d been given and the precise instructions about who to ask for and where they’d find him. ‘Now, go and do what the angel said,’ Cornelius instructed, ‘and ask this Peter to come back here and tell us whatever it is God wants us to know.’ The three of them hurriedly got together all they’d need for the two day journey to Joppa and set off, not really knowing what to expect! (PAUSE) The next day, as the three men approached Joppa and started to ask directions to Simon the tanner’s house down by the shore, Peter, without knowing anything about the people looking for him, went up onto the flat roof of the house to spend some time in prayer. Now, it was about midday when Peter went up to the roof to pray, and he realised he was hungry! So, after asking for some food, Peter sat waiting for it to be prepared and fell into a trance. And, while in this trance, something started to happen. What appeared to be a very large sheet was lowered down from heaven by its four corners. And, as Peter looked inside the sheet, he saw that it was filled with all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds! And then, a voice spoke to him. ‘Peter,’ it said, ‘get up and kill and eat them!’ Peter couldn’t believe what he was hearing! The most important thing to a Jew was to remain ceremonially clean – to not mix or even associate with Gentiles (who are people who aren’t Jews) and especially not to eat animals that the Jewish law said were unclean (even though Jesus Himself had said that it wasn’t food that made a man unclean but his own evil thoughts and desires). So Peter replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! In all my life I haven’t eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish law!’ But then the voice spoke again, a note of rebuke in it, ‘If God says something’s clean, don’t call it unclean!’ Three times the vision was repeated and then the sheet was pulled up once again into heaven. What on earth was all that about? As Peter sat there puzzling over what it all meant, the three men sent by Cornelius arrived at the gate of the house and asked if this was the place where Simon who was also known as Peter was staying. As they asked, and as Peter continued to try and understand this strange vision, the Holy Spirit spoke to him. ‘Three men have come looking for you,’ He said. ‘I have sent these men, so don’t hesitate to go with them.’ At that, Peter got up, went downstairs and found the three men. ‘I’m the man you’re looking for,’ he told them. ‘But what’s this all about? Why’ve you come looking for me?’ ‘We’ve been sent by Cornelius, the Roman officer,’ they replied. ‘He is a righteous, God-fearing man who’s respected by all the Jews. And we’ve come looking for you because a holy angel told Cornelius to ask you to come to his house so that you...
12 minutes | May 17, 2021
Episode NT45 - Peter, Aeneas & Tabitha
Story 45 – Peter, Aeneas and Tabitha Based on Acts chapter 9 verses 32 - 43 So the church had a period of peace and growth throughout the region. And as it grew, Peter left Jerusalem and started an itinerant ministry, going from place to place encouraging the believers and telling those who hadn’t heard - about Jesus. And, as he moved around, he eventually came to a place called Lydda, at the intersection of a couple of extremely important trade routes, up to the north west of Israel. His purpose for coming was to encourage and build up the believers there. However, while he was in Lydda, he came across a man named Aeneas who was paralysed - and had been for at least 8 years. Maybe Peter was reminded of another paralysed man confined to his mattress? It had been during the time when Jesus was with them and He’d been teaching in a house jam-packed to overflowing. The friends of the paralysed man had been so insistent that he reached Jesus that they’d literally taken part of the roof off in order to lower their friend down in front of Jesus so that Jesus could heal him. It hadn’t gone quite as they’d expected because, instead of instantly curing their friend as they’d hoped, they’d watched as Jesus had not offered healing - but forgiveness - because Jesus had seen past the paralysis to the real deep-felt need of the man. Then, to prove to the doubting Jewish leaders present that He had the authority to forgive sins, Jesus had gone on to heal the man – much to the delight of his friends – and told him to pick up his mat and go home! An instant healing, undeniable and truly miraculous. Now here was poor Aeneas who, like that other man, was confined to his mattress. He’d been like if for 8 years with no hope whatsoever of freedom or change. No doubt filled with compassion for Aeneas, Peter looked at him and spoke to him directly, in very much the same way Jesus had spoken directly to that other paralytic once the issue of sin had been sorted. But Peter didn’t rely on his own power or for a moment think he could change Aeneas’ condition. Instead, Peter pointed to the real source of power by saying, ‘Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you.’ Quite what Aeneas felt I don’t know, but Peter wasn’t happy to leave it at that. Jesus hadn’t healed the paralytic lowered through the roof and then left him on his mat! Instead, Jesus had commanded the man to respond to the healing – an undeniable proof of the miracle that had taken place as well as being undeniable proof of Jesus’ ability and willingness to forgive sin! So, in the same way, Peter spoke again to Aeneas, ‘Now get up, and make your own bed’ – a task sounding so simple, but which had been impossible for him for 8 years. And, like the paralytic that Jesus had healed, who’d got up, picked up his mat and walked home, Aeneas also got up – no doubt both overwhelmed and overjoyed by what had happened to him. When Jesus had healed that paralytic, it had been obvious to all, and the reaction of those present at that time had been to glorify God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this before.’ And, in a similar way, the story of what had happened to Aeneas spread like wildfire throughout the whole of Lydda and the plain of Sharon. People saw the once paralysed man walking about and living his life by the power of Jesus working through Peter. They met him, spoke to him and no doubt the story was told over and over again about how wonderful and merciful the Lord had been to him. And, as people heard, the Holy Spirit moved in an incredibly powerful and deep way, as everyone responded by turning away from their old way of life and towards Jesus, believing in Him and accepting Him as their Saviour. (PAUSE) Now, during the time Peter was in Lydda, an incident happened in Joppa which was about 11 miles away up to the north east, on the coast. The believers in Joppa must have heard about Peter’s visit to Lydda and the news of what’d happened to Aeneas. So, when the incident
12 minutes | May 10, 2021
Episode NT44 - The Road To Damascus
Story 44 – The Road To Damascus Based on Acts chapter 9 verses 1 to 31 Had the two of them met before Jesus had been crucified? Had they both been in the Temple together at a Jewish festival or celebration? Had Saul listened to the carpenter from Nazareth as He’d taught the people about the Kingdom of God? Saul knew about John the Baptist and had certainly heard the reports about all Jesus had done - the miracles, the wonders, the signs! He’d seen the frustration of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Priests and the Teachers of the Law as, time and time again, Jesus had proved that they didn’t understand what the Scriptures said, and were more interested in what people thought about them than in obeying God. Had it made him angry to hear what Jesus was saying and to realise that, deep inside, even though he seemed to be perfect in his obedience to the Law, he couldn’t control his own sin - his envy, his pride? And the crucifixion of Jesus? What had he made of that? To hear that this teacher and miracle worker had been put to death under the curse of God! For the Scriptures clearly stated that anyone who hung on a tree was under the curse of God and, by being nailed to a wooden cross, Jesus most certainly was ‘hung on a tree’ and therefore came under God’s curse. And yet, within days of His terrible death, to hear rumours and murmurings that Jesus was alive again! There were other things too. The Temple curtain for one, torn in two at the same time Jesus died, and no doubt hurriedly sewn back up again by the Priests! What did it mean? Then there was that sound, that loud noise of rushing wind during the feast of Pentecost. It seemed that from that moment on the trouble had really started! True, it’d been surprising to see the followers of Jesus worshipping in the Temple so soon after He died and the rumours of His resurrection but, after Pentecost, the number of these followers had seemed to explode across Jerusalem with more and more of them following ‘the Way’, as it was called, every day! (PAUSE) Surely it had to be a lie? How could this Jesus be the Son of God? But then Saul had also seen Stephen as his face had shone like that of an angel, and he’d listened to his speech accusing them of disbelief – the nerve! And that had been it, this plague of foolish idiots deceived by the nonsense about Jesus being the Messiah had to be stopped! Saul’s blood had boiled with anger at these people, these followers of Jesus, and he’d watched with hate-filled pleasure as Stephen had been dragged to his place of death. (P) True, he hadn’t expected Stephen to forgive them as they stoned him to death. And what to make of his claim of seeing Jesus standing at the right hand of God … surely that was blasphemy, to make Jesus out to be equal with God? And that had been the trigger, the catalyst, for all that had followed as Saul in his anger, hatred and rage had swept through Jerusalem throwing in prison and sentencing to death everyone he could find who claimed to be a follower of Jesus! Searching from house to house with the single-minded purpose of destroying the young church, Saul arrested and condemned many, while plenty more slipped through his fingers, escaping from Jerusalem to the towns and cities throughout Israel and beyond. But not to worry! They wouldn’t last long. They could run, but they couldn’t hide. Because if there was one real weakness about these followers of ‘the Way’ it was this – they just couldn’t keep quiet about that man Jesus. Wherever they went it seemed that the first thing they did was to find a Jewish meeting place, a synagogue, and start telling other Jews about Jesus. They’d be so easy to find! And now, as Saul trudged along the road to the distant city of Damascus, with letters in his hand from the High Priest himself, giving him orders to find, arrest, put in chains and drag back to Jerusalem every follower of ‘the Way’ he found, Saul muttered murderous threats against them, ready to...
11 minutes | May 3, 2021
Episode NT43 - Beyond Jerusalem
Story 43 – Beyond Jerusalem Based on Acts chapter 8 verses 4 to 40 So Stephen was dead and, as those who hated the church swept through Jerusalem to arrest and imprison every believer they could find, the rest of us fled for our lives, not sure what to think! Satan, the enemy of God, seemed to be winning, killing Jesus’ followers and making it almost impossible for us to carry on meeting together. As for me, Philip, I escaped Jerusalem just in time and started to go north, to the area called Samaria. The Jews hate the Samaritans because they think that Samaritans aren’t proper Jews but a mixture of Jews and non-Jews and so they avoid Samaria and Samaritans as much as possible. I hoped that would put off those persecuting the church from following me there. Mind you, it’s not really a good place for any Jew to go, because the hatred goes both ways, and the Samaritans hate the Jews just as much, the two groups having as little to do with each other as possible. As I pondered on all that was happening, I couldn’t help thinking about another time when Jesus’ followers had thought that Satan had won – when Jesus was crucified! Back then, the disciples didn’t understand or believe that, even when Jesus was taken to the cross to be executed, God was still in control. And, because God was still in control, when Jesus died on the cross, far from it being a great victory for Satan, it removed all Satan’s power as Jesus took away our guilt so that Satan couldn’t tell God how terrible we were any more! So, now, when things seemed so bleak with Stephen dead and the rest of us scattered, was God still in control? Of course He was! And yet, what was I supposed to be doing? As I arrived in Samaria, the words of Jesus that the apostles had told us about came to mind. Jesus had said that we’d be witnesses to Him in Jerusalem, yes! But He’d also said we’d be witnesses to Him in Samaria and I was in Samaria! And, anyway, I just couldn’t keep quiet about all the Lord had done, so, when I entered the city of Samaria, I started telling them about the Messiah, about Jesus. I didn’t know what to expect, but I simply couldn’t keep quiet! God was with me as the Holy Spirit worked with great power through me, enabling me to do all kinds of miracles. Those possessed by evil spirits were freed and the demons left with a shriek! The sick were healed – both paralysed and lame – and, because of it, the people listened very carefully to everything I had to tell them about Jesus and there was lots of joy in the city. (PAUSE) One thing I’ve learnt is that, when the Lord’s at work through His people, Satan’s at work as well! (P) In that city there was a man called ‘Simon the Sorcerer’. For many years he’d claimed to be someone of great importance and all the people, from the most ordinary right up to the rulers, often called him ‘the Great One – the Power of God’. The reason they all thought so much of him was because of the magic he performed. But now, many people in that city believed the message I brought them about the Kingdom of God and about Jesus. And because of that many men and women were baptised. Even Simon seemed to believe what I said and was baptised. Yet, rather than getting on and showing he really believed by doing what God wanted, he followed me around everywhere I went, wanting to see the miracles God was doing through me. And, when he saw them, he was amazed! – But more on Simon later. I don’t know if you remember, but God had shown us that when we believed, He’d send the Holy Spirit to us in a special way. He’d ‘baptise us with the Holy Spirit’, to use Jesus’ words. But a funny thing happened when I was in Samaria. Many people had heard my message about the Kingdom of God and believed what I said and been baptised into the name of Jesus, and yet, the Lord hadn’t baptised them with the Holy Spirit! (P) Anyway, when what was left of the church in Jerusalem heard that the people in Samaria had accepted God’s message, they quickly