“July 8–14. Acts 6–9: ‘What Wilt Thou Have Me to Do?’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: New Testament 2019 (2019)
“July 8–14. Acts 6–9,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2019
Record Your Impressions
If anyone seemed like an unlikely candidate for conversion, it was probably Saul—a Pharisee who had a reputation for persecuting Christians. So when the Lord told a disciple named Ananias to seek out Saul and offer him a blessing, Ananias was understandably hesitant. “Lord,” he said, “I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints” (Acts 9:13). But the Lord knew Saul’s heart and his potential, and He had a mission in mind for Saul: “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). So Ananias obeyed, and when he found this former persecutor, he called him “Brother Saul” (Acts 9:17). If Saul could change so completely and Ananias could welcome him so freely, then should we ever consider anyone an unlikely candidate for change—including ourselves?
A growing church meant a growing need for disciples to serve in the kingdom. According to Acts 6:1–15, what qualities were the Twelve Apostles looking for in those who would serve with them? As you read Acts 6–8, note how these qualities, and others, were demonstrated in people like Stephen and Philip. What was lacking in Simon, and what can we learn from him about being willing to change?
Is there anything you feel inspired to change to ensure that your heart is “right in the sight of God”? (Acts 8:21–22). How might making this change bless you as you serve God?
The Jewish leaders, though charged with preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah, rejected Jesus Christ and demanded His Crucifixion because of their pride and quest for power. How did this happen? Stephen declared to them, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51). What do you think it means to resist the Holy Ghost? Why does resisting the Holy Ghost lead to rejecting the Savior and His prophets?
As you read Acts 6–7, look for other messages that Stephen taught the Jews. What attitudes was he warning against? Do you detect any similar attitudes in yourself? What do Stephen’s words teach you about the consequences of resisting the Holy Ghost? How can you be more sensitive and responsive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost in your life?
See also the video “The Martyrdom of Stephen” (LDS.org).
Stephen is the first known Christian martyr (someone who is killed because of their beliefs) after Jesus’s Resurrection. Many other Saints throughout history were also killed because they would not deny their faith in Jesus Christ. Some of these are mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24:20–21; Mark 6:17–29; Acts 12:1–2; Revelation 6:9–11; Mosiah 17:20; Alma 14:8–11; Helaman 13:24–26; Doctrine and Covenants 109:47–49; 135:1–7; and Abraham 1:11. It is likely that after the Savior’s Resurrection, all of the Apostles except John died as martyrs.
Saul’s conversion seems very sudden; he went “straightway” from imprisoning Christians to preaching Christ in the synagogues (Acts 9:20). As you read his story, ponder why he was so willing to change. (To read Saul’s own description of his conversion, see Acts 22:1–16 and 26:9–18. Note that by the time of these accounts, Saul’s name had been changed to Paul.)
While it’s true that Saul’s experience is unusual—for most people, conversion is a much longer process—is there anything you can learn from Saul about conversion? What do you learn from the way Ananias and the other disciples reacted to Saul’s conversion? What will you do to apply these lessons in your life? You might begin by asking in prayer, as Saul did, “What wilt thou have me to do?” Or you could write this question as a title in your journal and record impressions that come to you over time.
See also Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 70–77; “The Road to Damascus” (video, LDS.org).
As you read the scriptures with your family, the Spirit can help you know what principles to emphasize and discuss in order to meet the needs of your family. Here are some suggestions:
How did the Holy Ghost bless Stephen when he was being persecuted? When have we received strength from the Holy Ghost during difficult times?
Does your family know what “kick against the pricks” means? A prick was a sharp spear used to drive animals. Often the animals would kick back when pricked, which would cause the spear to sink even further into the animal’s flesh. In what ways can this analogy apply to us?
Consider inviting your family members to draw pictures of the stories in Acts 9:32–43. What do they learn about true discipleship from Aeneas, Tabitha, and the widows of Joppa? How could someone who is “full of good works” help others believe in the Lord? (see Acts 9:36, 42; “Chapter 60: Peter Brings Tabitha Back to Life,” New Testament Stories, 156–57, or the corresponding video on LDS.org).
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.