We are aware that Doctor Luke wrote the Gospel that bears his name and its sequel the Acts of the Apostles. One word he uses frequently is the word ‘certain’. Including the word certainty, he uses it over 100 times in the two books combined, whilst the remainder of the New Testament has only thirty-five.
In the first five verses of Luke’s Gospel, he draws attention to the days of Herod when a ‘certain priest named Zacharias’ is mentioned, v. 5. Delving further into the Gospel, we read of ‘a certain city’, 5. 12, ‘a certain Samaritan’, 10. 33, ‘a certain man’ who had two sons, 15. 11, and many others. Only three designated uses of ‘certain’ are named, Zacharias, Martha, 10. 38, and Lazarus, 16. 20. However, in the book of the Acts, Luke names fifteen persons both male and female and we want to draw lessons from four in the book that are called a ‘certain disciple’.
In chapter 9, we are introduced to Ananias, ‘a certain disciple at Damascus’. Saul was ‘knocking on the door’ of the believers at Damasus to persecute those that were living there and that would include Ananias. Saul was making ‘havock of the church’, 8. 3, and yet ‘a certain disciple’, in all his humility, was used of the Lord and at the disposal of the Lord. Here is a clean vessel, v. 10, and a chosen vessel, v. 15. Saul came to know what a saint was when he met Ananias. He was no one outstanding or prominent but the Lord had him in mind to use him and we cannot but be taken aback by the first words he said to Saul, ‘Brother Saul’, v. 17, when we consider what Saul had been doing amongst the early church believers. Ananias was used by the Lord to speak to another. Are we taking every opportunity to speak to others about the Saviour? Saul/Paul never forgot that encounter.
The second ‘certain disciple’ of the chapter is Tabitha/Dorcas. We must note that both Ananias and Dorcas were used by the Lord in their own community. She was a diligent Christian woman who loved the Saviour and others. The Lord Jesus claims our hearts first before our talents. What could she do? She used her fingers and her funds for the needy in her locality. Her inward love had an outward expression. Verse 36 points out that she was ‘full of good works and almsgiving which she did’. We could ask Dorcas, ‘what is that in thine hand?’ Exod. 4. 2. A needle would be the reply. Her death is recorded in verse 37 which brings an outpouring of grief. She was mourned and missed as she had died in what seemed to be the midst of a useful life. Peter was shown a display of one woman’s work which was done for the glory of God and the good of others. But the narrative points out her deliverance, v. 40, being raised from the dead to take up her work again. Dorcas was used by the Lord to help others practically. The challenge is what are we doing for the master in our neighbourhood?
The third ‘certain disciple’ is found in Acts chapter 16 verse 1, where we are introduced to Timothy or Timotheus. Much can be written about him in the references we have of him in the Epistles. It is obvious that he was a young man at this stage. 2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 5 reminds us of his childhood, being a reference to his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. What a godly heritage! He was Paul’s child in the faith, 1 Tim. 1. 2. He was conversant with the scriptures, 2 Tim. 3. 15, and he became a companion of Paul and received his commendation from his older brother in Christ, Phil. 2. 20-22. Here was a younger man in which Paul saw the potential for the continuation of the work and it is to Timothy we have the last recorded writings of the Apostle Paul in Second Timothy. Surely, we would desire and pray to see the potential of younger men today to take the baton to the next generation should the Lord delay His coming.
The final ‘certain disciple’ is mentioned in chapter 21 verse 16. Whilst the word ‘certain’ is in italics, we are drawn to this man called Mnason as the only one named in the verse. Only recorded here in scripture, he gave hospitality to Paul. A disciple who had been on the pathway for some time, referred to as ‘old’, he was willing to be a help to the Lord’s servants. Although he might have provided lodging for a night, the record of what he did is left on the sacred page. It is good to start well and good to finish well. The word of God would show that there is no retirement in the Lord’s work. New spheres of service beckon and there is always the opportunity for those who are housebound and cannot get to the meetings. Look to and thank God for former service and pray. What an example we can be and what an impression we can make and leave with younger brethren and sisters. Take time to look at Psalm 71 verse 18.
May we feel the challenge of these ‘certain disciples’ whether a brother or sister, young or old, may we serve the Lord for His glory. ‘There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do’.
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