Immerse: Messiah – 8 Week Bible Reading Experience

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Read Through The New Testament in just 8 weeks with the NLT Bible and Immerse: Messiah
QUICK START GUIDE
3 ways to get the most out of your experience
  1. Use Immerse: Messiah instead of your regular chapter-and-verse Bible. This special reader’s edition restores the Bible to its natural simplicity and beauty by removing chapter and verse numbers and other historical additions. Letters look like letters, songs look like
    songs, and the original literary structures are visible in each book. 
  2. Commit to making this a community experience. Immerse is designed for groups to encounter large portions of the Bible together
    for 8 weeks—more like a book club, less like a Bible study. By meeting every week in small groups and discussing what you read in open, honest conversations, you and your community can come together to be transformed through an authentic experience with the Scriptures.
  3. Aim to understand the big story. Read through “The Stories and the Story” (p. 483) to see how the books of the Bible work together
    to tell God’s story of his creation’s restoration. As you read through Immerse: Messiah, rather than ask, “How do I fit God into my busy life?” begin asking, “How can I join in God’s great plan by living out my part in his story?”
4 Questions to get your conversations started:
  1. What stood out to you this week?
  2. Was there anything confusing or troubling?
  3. Did anything make you think differently about God?
  4. How might this change the way we live?
Part of NLT Immerse: The Reading Bible, Complete Set, the Winner of the 2022 Christian Book Award for Bible of the Year!
Messiah is the first of six volumes of Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience program. Messiah takes the reader on a new and unique journey through every book of the New Testament. Each part of Messiah begins with one of the Gospels, and together combine to provide the reader with enjoyable and impactful readings all centered on Jesus. The end result is a Bible developed for the purpose of being read and understood, not referred to. Messiah is a new way to interact with God’s Word.
Messiah delivers Scripture to the reader as it was originally created: without chapter or verse breaks. While references are made available for ease of finding specific Scripture references, those references do not appear within the actual text of Scripture. This makes for uninterrupted reading of God’s Word. Created with the look and feel of a paperback book, and written using the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, the most readable translation available, Messiah enables you to easily read and understand the Bible.

Currently featured in the Saddleback Church "Anchored Life Challenge." To join the challenge and read through the New Testament in 8 weeks, join at https://saddleback.com/anchored

What is Immerse: Messiah – 8 Week Bible Reading Experience?

Read (and listen!) through the New Testament in 8 weeks with your small group or on your own.

Immerse: Messiah is the first of six volumes in Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience. Messiah takes the reader on a unique journey through every book of the New Testament. Each section of Messiah begins with one of the Gospels, and together they combine to provide a life-changing reading experience centered on Jesus. This fresh arrangement of the books highlights the depth of the New Testament’s fourfold witness to Jesus the Messiah. The Son of God, who fulfills all the longings and promises of the collected Scriptures, can be experienced in Messiah through the rich variety of lenses provided by the books of the new covenant.

The Immerse Bible Series is the proud winner of the prestigious Bible of the Year award from the ECPA Christian Book Awards. Immerse: The Reading Bible is specially crafted for a distraction-free listening and reading experience, helping you dive in and get immersed in Scripture. You’ll have a great experience using Immerse by yourself. But for an even richer experience, try reading with friends.

Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience is an invitation to a different kind of community interaction with the Bible. Less like a Bible study, more like a book club.

- 8 or 16-week Bible listening plans take you through a large section of the Bible like the New Testament or the Torah
- Meet once a week for a free-flowing discussion about the text
- Wrestle with questions and celebrate ‘aha!’ moments together

Nothing impacts spiritual growth more than spending time in Scripture. Immerse removes many of the barriers that make Bible reading difficult and invites communities to become transformed together through the power of God’s word.

 Welcome to the saddleback church anchored life challenge which can also by found on the saddleback companion app or by purchasing the immerse messiah book from tyndale.

The anchored life challenge includes speakers such as Andy Wood, Rick Warren, and Stacie Wood. 
Immerse Messiah 7
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Intro Narrator: [00:00:00] Welcome to Immerse Messiah Reading for week two. Day seven, Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power,

Andy Wood: performed amazing miracles

Intro Narrator: and signs among the people. But one day some men from the synagogue of freed slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Syre. Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia.

Intro Narrator: None of them could stand against the wisdom and the spirit with which Stephen spoke. So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, We heard him blaspheme Moses and even God. This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council.

Intro Narrator: The lying witnesses said, This man is always speaking against the Holy Temple and against the law of Moses. We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the temple and change the customs Moses handed [00:01:00] down to us. At this point, everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel's.

Intro Narrator: Then the high priest asked Stephen, Are these accusations true? This was Stephen's reply. Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia before he settled in Haran. God told him, Leave your native land and your relatives and come into the land that I will show you.

Intro Narrator: So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran until his father died. Then God brought him here to the land where you now live. But God gave him no inheritance here, not even one square foot of land. God did promise, however, that eventually the whole land would belong to Abraham and his descendants.

Intro Narrator: Even though he had no children yet, God also told him that his descendants would live in a [00:02:00] foreign land where they would be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, God said, and in the end they will come out and worship me here in this place. God also gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision at that time.

Intro Narrator: So when Abraham became the father of Isaac, he circumcised him on the eighth day. And the practice was continued when Isaac became the father of Jacob, and when Jacob became the father of the twelve

Andy Wood: patriarchs of the Israelite

Intro Narrator: nation. These patriarchs were jealous of their brother Joseph. And they sold him to be a slave in Egypt.

Intro Narrator: But God was with him, and rescued him from all his troubles. And God gave him favor before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. God also gave Joseph unusual wisdom, so that Pharaoh appointed him governor over all of Egypt, and put him in charge of the palace. But a famine came upon Egypt and Canaan.

Andy Wood: There was [00:03:00] great misery,

Intro Narrator: and our ancestors ran out of food.

Intro Narrator: Jacob heard that there was still grain in Egypt, so he sent his sons, our ancestors, to buy some. The second time they went, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers,

Andy Wood: and they were introduced

Intro Narrator: to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent for his father, Jacob, and all his relatives to come to Egypt, seventy five persons in all.

Intro Narrator: So Jacob went to Egypt. He died there, as did our ancestors. Their bodies were taken to Shechem, and buried in the tomb Abraham had bought for a certain price from Hamor's sons in Shechem. As the time drew near when God would fulfill His promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased.

Intro Narrator: But then a new king came to the throne of Egypt, who knew nothing about Joseph. This king exploited our people and oppressed them, forcing parents to abandon their newborn babies so they would die. At that time, [00:04:00] Moses was born, a beautiful child in God's eyes. His parents cared for him at home for three months.

Intro Narrator: When they had to abandon him, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and raised him as her own son. Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in both speech and action. One day, when Moses was 40 years

Andy Wood: old, he decided to visit his relatives, the people of Israel.

Intro Narrator: He saw an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite.

Intro Narrator: So Moses came to the man's defense and avenged him, killing the Egyptian. Moses assumed his fellow Israelites would realize that God had sent him to rescue them, but they didn't. The next day he visited them again and saw two men of Israel fighting. He tried to be a peacemaker. Men, he said,

Andy Wood: you are brothers.

Andy Wood: Why

Intro Narrator: are you fighting each other? But the man in the wrong pushed Moses aside. Who made you a ruler and judge over us? [00:05:00] He asked, are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday? When Moses heard that, he fled the country and lived as a foreigner in the land of Midian. There his two sons were born.

Andy Wood: Forty years later, in the desert near Mount Sinai,

Intro Narrator: an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush. The When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he went to take a closer look, the voice of the Lord called out to him, I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Intro Narrator: Moses shook with terror and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, Take off your sandals. For you are standing on holy ground. I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt. So God sent back the same [00:06:00] man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, Who made you a ruler and judge over us?

Intro Narrator: Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior. And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs, He led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years. Moses himself told the people of Israel, God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among

Andy Wood: your own people.

Intro Narrator: Moses was with our ancestors, the assembly of God's people in the wilderness, when the angels spoke to him at Mount Sinai. And there Moses received life giving words to pass on to us. But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt. They told Aaron, Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don't know what has become of this Moses who brought us out of Egypt.

Intro Narrator: So they made an idol shaped like a [00:07:00] calf, and they sacrificed to it and celebrated over this thing they had made. Then God turned away from them and abandoned them to serve the stars of heaven as their gods.

Andy Wood: In the book of the prophets,

Intro Narrator: it is written, was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during those 40 years in the

Andy Wood: wilderness, Israel?

Andy Wood: No, you carried your

Intro Narrator: pagan gods, the shrine of Molech, the star of your god Rephan, and the images you made to worship them. So I will send you into exile as far away as Babylon. Our ancestors carried the tabernacle with them through the wilderness. It was constructed according to the plan God had shown to Moses.

Andy Wood: Years

Intro Narrator: later, when Joshua led our ancestors in battle against the nations that God drove out of this land, the tabernacle was taken with them into their new territory, and it stayed there until the time of King David. David found favor with God. And [00:08:00] asked for the privilege of building a permanent temple for the God of Jacob.

Intro Narrator: But it was Solomon who actually built it. However, the Most High doesn't live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Ask the Lord, could you build me such a resting place? Didn't my hands make both heaven and earth?

Intro Narrator: You stubborn people, you are heathen at heart and deaf

Andy Wood: to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That's

Intro Narrator: what your ancestors did

Andy Wood: and so do you. Name one

Intro Narrator: prophet your ancestors didn't persecute. They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the righteous one, the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered.

Intro Narrator: You deliberately disobeyed God's law, even though you received it from the hands of angels. The Jewish [00:09:00] leaders were infuriated by Stephen's accusation, and they shook

Andy Wood: their fists at him

Intro Narrator: in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God's right hand.

Intro Narrator: And he told them, Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God's right hand. Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off

Andy Wood: their coats and laid

Intro Narrator: them at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Intro Narrator: As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, Lord Jesus, receive

Andy Wood: my

Intro Narrator: spirit. He fell to his knees, shouting, Lord, don't charge them with this sin. And with that, he died. Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great [00:10:00] wave of persecution began that day. Sweeping over the church in Jerusalem.

Intro Narrator: And all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning. But Saul was going everywhere to destroy

Andy Wood: the church.

Intro Narrator: He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.

Andy Wood: But the believers who were scattered

Intro Narrator: preached the good news about Jesus wherever they went.

Intro Narrator: Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria. And told the people there about the Messiah. Crowds

Andy Wood: listened intently to Philip because they were eager

Intro Narrator: to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or

Andy Wood: lame were healed.

Intro Narrator: So there was great joy in that city. A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many [00:11:00] years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as the Great One, the power of God. They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic.

Intro Narrator: But now, the people believed Philip's message of good news concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself believed and was baptized.

Andy Wood: He

Intro Narrator: began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed.

Intro Narrator: When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God's message, they sent Peter and John there. As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive

Andy Wood: the Holy

Intro Narrator: Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Intro Narrator: Then Peter and John [00:12:00] laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this

Andy Wood: power. Let me have this power,

Intro Narrator: too. He exclaimed, So that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit.

Intro Narrator: But Peter replied, May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God's gift can be bought. You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray

Andy Wood: to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your

Intro Narrator: evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.

Intro Narrator: Pray to the Lord for me, Simon

Andy Wood: exclaimed, that these terrible things you've said won't happen to me.

Intro Narrator: After testifying and preaching the word of the Lord in Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, and they stopped in many Samaritan villages along the way to preach the good news. [00:13:00]

Andy Wood: As for Philip, an

Intro Narrator: angel of the Lord said to him, Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.

Intro Narrator: So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Andy Wood: The Holy Spirit said to Philip,

Intro Narrator: Go over and walk along beside the carriage.

Intro Narrator: Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, Do you understand what you are reading? The man replied, How can I, unless someone instructs

Andy Wood: me? And he urged Philip to come up

Intro Narrator: into the carriage and sit with him. The passage of scripture he had been

Andy Wood: reading was this, He was led like a sheep to the

Intro Narrator: slaughter, and as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.[00:14:00]

Intro Narrator: He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth. The eunuch asked Philip, Tell me,

Andy Wood: was the prophet talking about himself or someone else? So beginning with this same scripture, Philip told him the good

Intro Narrator: news about Jesus. As they rode along, they came to some water,

Andy Wood: and the eunuch said, Look, there's some water.

Andy Wood: Why can't I be baptized? He ordered the carriage to stop,

Intro Narrator: and they went down into the water, and Philip

Andy Wood: baptized

Intro Narrator: him. When they came up out of the water,

Andy Wood: the Spirit of the

Intro Narrator: Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north, at the town of Azotus.

Intro Narrator: He preached the good news there, and in every town along the way, until he came to Caesarea. Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath, [00:15:00]

Andy Wood: and was eager to kill the Lord's followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested

Intro Narrator: letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the way he found there.

Intro Narrator: He wanted to bring them, both men and women, back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and

Andy Wood: heard a voice saying to him,

Intro Narrator: Saul. Saul,

Andy Wood: why are you persecuting me?

Intro Narrator: Who are you, Lord? Saul asked,

Andy Wood: and

Intro Narrator: the voice replied, I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.

Intro Narrator: Now get up and go into the city. And you will be told what you must do. The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone's voice, but saw no one. Saul picked

Andy Wood: himself up

Intro Narrator: off the ground. But when he opened his eyes, he was blind. [00:16:00] So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days, and did not eat or drink.

Intro Narrator: Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, Ananias! Yes, Lord! He replied. The

Andy Wood: Lord said, Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas.

Intro Narrator: When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.

Intro Narrator: But, Lord, exclaimed Ananias, I have heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem. And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest

everyone

Andy Wood: who calls upon your name. But the Lord

Intro Narrator: said, Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument, to take my message to the Gentiles and to [00:17:00] kings.

Intro Narrator: As well as to the people of Israel, and I will show him how much he must suffer for my namesake. So

Andy Wood: Ananias

Intro Narrator: went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said,

Andy Wood: Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you

Intro Narrator: on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Intro Narrator: Instantly, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward, he ate some food and regained his strength. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogue, saying, He is indeed the Son of God.

Intro Narrator: All who heard him were amazed. Isn't this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus followers in Jerusalem? They asked. And didn't he come here to arrest [00:18:00] them? And take them in chains to the leading priests? Saul's preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in

Andy Wood: Damascus couldn't refute his proofs

Intro Narrator: that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

Intro Narrator: After a while, some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gates so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall. When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him.

Intro Narrator: They did not believe he

Andy Wood: had truly become a believer. Then

Intro Narrator: Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus, and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus. So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, [00:19:00] preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.

Intro Narrator: He debated with some Greek speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him. When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown. The church then had peace throughout Judea.

Andy Wood: And

Intro Narrator: it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.

Intro Narrator: Meanwhile, Peter traveled from place to place, and he came down to visit the believers in the town of Lydda. There he met a man named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, Aeneas,

Andy Wood: Jesus Christ heals you.

Intro Narrator: Get up and roll up your sleeping mat. And he was healed instantly.

Intro Narrator: Then the whole population of Litta and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around. And they [00:20:00] turned to the Lord.

Andy Wood: There was a believer in

Intro Narrator: Joppa named Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. About this time, she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in

Andy Wood: an upstairs room.

Andy Wood: But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda,

Intro Narrator: so they sent two men to beg him, please come as soon as possible. So Peter returned with them. And as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for

Andy Wood: them.

Andy Wood: But Peter asked them all to leave the room.

Intro Narrator: Then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body, he said, Get up, Tabitha.

Andy Wood: And she opened her eyes. When she saw Peter, she sat up. He gave her his

Intro Narrator: hand and helped her up. Then he called in the [00:21:00] widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive. The news spread through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord.

Intro Narrator: And Peter stayed a long time in Joppa, living with Simon, a tanner of hides. In Caesarea,

Andy Wood: there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius.

Intro Narrator: Who was a captain of the Italian regiment. He was a devout God-fearing man. As was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God.

Intro Narrator: One afternoon, about three o'clock,

Andy Wood: he had a vision in which he saw an angel of

Intro Narrator: God coming toward him. Cornelius, the angel said.

Andy Wood: Cornelius stared at him in terror.

Intro Narrator: What is it, sir? he asked the angel. And the angel replied, Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering. Now send some men to Joppa and summon a man named Simon Peter.

Intro Narrator: He is [00:22:00] staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore. As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal attendants. He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa. The next day, as Cornelius messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray.

Intro Narrator: It was about noon, and he was hungry,

Andy Wood: but while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.

Intro Narrator: He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles,

Andy Wood: and birds. Then a voice said to him, Get up, Peter.

Intro Narrator: Kill and eat them. No, Lord, Peter declared.

Intro Narrator: I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean. But the voice spoke again. Do not call something unclean, if God has made it [00:23:00] clean. The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven. Peter was very perplexed. What could the vision mean?

Intro Narrator: Just then, the men sent by Cornelius found Simon's house. Standing outside the gate, they asked if a man named Simon Peter was staying there. Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, Three men have come looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation.

Intro Narrator: Don't worry, for I have sent them. So Peter went down and said, I'm the men you're looking

Andy Wood: for.

Intro Narrator: Why have you come?

Andy Wood: They said, We were sent by Cornelius, a Roman officer.

Intro Narrator: He is a devout and God fearing man well respected by all the Jews. A holy angel instructed him to summon you to his house

Andy Wood: so that he can hear your

Intro Narrator: message.

Intro Narrator: So Peter invited the men to stay for the [00:24:00] night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa. They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter

Andy Wood: entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet

Intro Narrator: and worshipped him.

Intro Narrator: But Peter pulled him up and said, Stand up,

Andy Wood: I'm a human being just like you. So they talked together and

Intro Narrator: went inside, where many others were assembled. Peter told them, You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like

Andy Wood: this, or to associate with you.

Intro Narrator: But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.

Intro Narrator: So I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. Now, tell me why you sent for me. Cornelius replied, Four days ago, I was praying in my house about this same time, three o'clock in

Andy Wood: the afternoon. Suddenly,

Intro Narrator: a man in [00:25:00] dazzling clothes was standing in

Andy Wood: front of me. He told me, Cornelius, your prayer has been heard,

Intro Narrator: and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God.

Intro Narrator: Now send messengers to Joppa. And summon a man named Simon Peter.

Andy Wood: He is staying in the home of Simon,

Intro Narrator: a tanner who lives near the seashore. So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come.

Andy Wood: Now we are all

Intro Narrator: here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you. Then Peter replied, I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.

Intro Narrator: In every nation, He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right.

Andy Wood: This is the message of good news for the people of Israel, that there is peace

Intro Narrator: with God through Jesus Christ. Who

Andy Wood: is Lord of all. You know what happened

Intro Narrator: throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after John began preaching his message of baptism and you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with [00:26:00] power.

Intro Narrator: Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. For God was with him, and we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him to life on the third day. Then God allowed him to appear, not to the general public, but to us, whom God had chosen in advance to be his witnesses.

Intro Narrator: We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he

Andy Wood: ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify

Intro Narrator: that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all, the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.

Intro Narrator: Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter [00:27:00] were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles,

Andy Wood: too,

Intro Narrator: for they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God. Then Peter asked, Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the

Andy Wood: Holy Spirit, just as we did?

Andy Wood: So he gave

Intro Narrator: orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward, Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days. Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the Word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him.

Intro Narrator: You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with

Andy Wood: them,

Intro Narrator: they said. Then

Andy Wood: Peter told them

Intro Narrator: exactly what had happened. I was in the town of Joppa, he said, and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky, and it came [00:28:00] right down to me.

Intro Narrator: When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals,

Andy Wood: reptiles, and birds. And I heard a voice

Intro Narrator: say, Get up, Peter. Kill and eat them. No, Lord,

Andy Wood: I replied. I have never eaten anything

Intro Narrator: that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean. But the voice from heaven spoke again. Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.

Intro Narrator: This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven. Just then, Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. The Holy Spirit told me to go with them. And not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us.

Intro Narrator: He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him send messengers to Joppa and summon a man named Simon Peter. [00:29:00] He will tell you how you and everyone in your

Andy Wood: household can be saved. As I

Intro Narrator: began to speak, Peter continued, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he fell on us at the beginning.

Intro Narrator: Then I thought of the Lord's words when he said, John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. And since God

Andy Wood: gave

Intro Narrator: these Gentiles the same gift he gave us, when we believed in the Lord

Andy Wood: Jesus Christ, who was

Intro Narrator: I to stand in God's way? When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God.

Andy Wood: They said,

Intro Narrator: We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life. Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen's death, Transcription by CastingWords However, some of the [00:30:00] believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord

Andy Wood: Jesus.

Intro Narrator: The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.

Andy Wood: When the church at Jerusalem

Intro Narrator: heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God's blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.

Intro Narrator: Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith, and many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. It was at Antioch that

Andy Wood: the believers were first called

Intro Narrator: Christians.

Intro Narrator: During this

Andy Wood: time, some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch.

Intro Narrator: One of them, named Agabus, stood up in one [00:31:00] of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius. So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could.

Intro Narrator: This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem. About that time, King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James, John's brother, killed with a sword. When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter.

Intro Narrator: This took place during the Passover celebration. Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover, but while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. [00:32:00] The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, He was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers.

Intro Narrator: Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him

Andy Wood: and said, Quick, get

Intro Narrator: up! And the

Andy Wood: chains fell off

Intro Narrator: his wrists. Then the angel told him, get dressed and put on your sandals, and he did.

Intro Narrator: Now put on your coat and follow me, the angel ordered.

Andy Wood: So Peter left the cell following

Intro Narrator: the angel, but

Andy Wood: all the time he thought it was a vision.

Intro Narrator: He didn't realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself.

Intro Narrator: So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him. Peter finally came to his senses.

Andy Wood: It's [00:33:00] really true, he said. The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders

Intro Narrator: had planned to do to me. When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer.

Intro Narrator: He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. When she recognized

Andy Wood: Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, Peter is standing at the door. You're out

Intro Narrator: of your mind, they said. When she insisted, they decided, it must be his angel.

Intro Narrator: Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. He motioned for them to quiet down and told them how the Lord

Andy Wood: had led him out of prison.

Intro Narrator: Tell James and the other brothers what happened, he said, and then he went to another place. At dawn, there was a great commotion among the soldiers [00:34:00] about what had happened to Peter.

Andy Wood: Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn't be found, Herod

Intro Narrator: interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death. Afterward, Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while. Now, Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod's country for food.

Intro Narrator: The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod's personal assistant, and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, It's the voice of a God, not of a man. Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people's worship instead of giving the glory to God.

Intro Narrator: So he was consumed with worms and died. [00:35:00] Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread,

Andy Wood: and there were many new believers. This concludes

Intro Narrator: today's Immerse Reading Experience. Thank you for joining us.