Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reading Challenge: Acts 13-14

We are at the half way point as of today. In fact, from this point on we are going to see the explosion and birth of the church as most of the story follows Paul in his missional endeavors. 

Today's readings are from Acts 13-14

Acts 13:
What an incredible time this must have been! Paul and Barnabas had been staying in the Antioch church when one day while they are praying and fasting the Holy Spirit informs them that they are to go out to the rest of the world. This is amazing. This is an opportunity for us to witness first hand the movement of God in its infant stages. I love how when we read it we don't hear them asking all kinds of questions or arguing about what to do, they simply go. This is a lesson for all of us: 1. we need to be in constant prayer and yes, maybe even fasting. 2. When the Spirit of God speaks our next response should be obedience, not questioning. 

Acts 14:
In Chapter 12 we seen how King Herod was struck down for letting people worship him as God. In this chapter Paul and Barnabas deflect the worship and tell them that they are merely men. The thing that stood out to me in this chapter was their faithfulness to the task of sharing the Good News. Notice that Paul was nearly stoned to death and dragged outside the city. The Scriptures say that he got up and went back into the city. That is courage! That is conviction to a mission! That is the type of commitment and boldness the church and her missionaries once again need to embody. 

What were your thoughts on these chapters? 

7 comments:

  1. These men are filled and then sent and even though they are having all these synagogues revivals, you don't see the huge conversion numbers like you did earlier.
    The sorcerer meeting was interesting.He confronts Paul.He physically places himself between Paul and the deputy/ruler so as to prevent this deputy from hearing and coming to the faith.Paul is just a body that is filled and directed by the Holy Spirit.
    Paul could have performed any miracle on this guy and have had him get a disease like leprosy or simply drop dead, but what I found interesting was that he causes him to be blind(for a season).
    I couldn't help remember how just a little over a year before,Paul,had an encounter on the Damascas road and it took a blindness to see what he was doing to the cause of Christ.
    My other thought was how weak are these priests who come into town with a sacrifice for their gods Jupiter and Mercury just because the people said that's who Paul and Barnabas were.Talk about mob rule.Who is running this idol worship service? One minute they are so happy celebrating. The sight of Paul and Barnabas renting their clothes must have confused them. Their intentions started off in one direction and took a turn after they are corrected.
    Embarrassed at appearing foolish? I see how pride is at the core of all sin and pain. Passions are running high.Then to further interrupt any chance for Paul and Barnabas to continue preaching,these trouble makers come from another town to stir things up.I know there was a language barrier, but it seems these out-of-towners didn't have much trouble getting their point across.You have people wanting to make you a god one minute and then trying to stone you to death the next.And it's all because of jealousy over the numbers turnout at the troublemakers synagogue.I know there is a languge barrier, but it's amazing how easily the religious instigators from out of town get their point across.
    Any time a church shows signs of growth and great things are happening...you can count on someone somehow someway being offended about it and stirring up discord.Of course now days we don't pick up literal rocks, we just throw stoney words out at them.

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  2. What I take away from these chapters is that obedience and humility are MUSTS. Maybe because that's been my lesson for the past year plus?! LOL.

    This verse caught me: "So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders." -Acts 14:3

    I get giddy when God does something to confirm my obedience. It's like, "YES! I got it right."

    And even after they impressed everyone, they did not waiver on who the glory should go to. Yet in spite of their insistence, it reads they could barely keep the people from sacrificing to them, still. Is this not how life is now? Even the purest of hearts can be distorted by the devil's constant, relentless lies--by all the people he puts in their path to confuse and manipulate the righteous into thinking they are god-like.

    He started that lie in the Garden of Eden and he will continue to spread it until God lays the final smack down. That day is a day *I* personally like to remind the devil of on a daily basis. ;)

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  3. Ryan WolfenbargerJune 16, 2009 at 8:56 AM

    What boldness and power Paul and Barnabas are operating in for the name of the Lord! These guys never pull ANY punches and lay out the Good News of Jesus Christ in its entirity no matter the audience! Jews, Gentiles, worhsippers of Greek gods, it makes no difference to them. They are not ashamed that there is only one true God who is the Alpha and Omega! Did you notice the lame man the Lord heals through Paul in the synagogue, when Paul looked at him and saw he had faith to be healed? FAITH....Paul did not even pray for him!! He had that same tenacity that the woman with the issue of blood had, "I am going to get to Jesus no matter what and I believe HE can heal me because HE is the Way the Truth and the LIFE." Those who have faith risk much but gain so much more from Him!

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  4. biggest take away was in Ch. 14:

    The courage that Paul had to return to the very city he had been stoned at & not only did he return he continued to share the gospel...

    How sad it is to see in the current Christian culture that many times we will ran as far away from the conflict as possible...
    It makes me think that God is not big enough to deal with it all...

    Grace is costly...we cheapen it by running from conflict and persecution.. (paraphrase - Cost of Discipleship book) God gave all!

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  5. Great thoughts everyone.

    Laurie, I love the connection you made between Paul's blindness and him cursing the sorcerer with blindness...very interesting.

    Amber,
    Isn't it funny that humility and obedience keep popping up throughout all of our reading challenges? LOL

    Ryan,
    Glad you gave your thoughts man! Dude, could you imagine if we lived our lives with the radical and undying faith that Paul demonstrated. You are right on with your assessment of their courageousness. I wish followers of Jesus would live this away again.

    Josh,
    Spot on brotha, we are afraid of conflict. We would rather preserve mediocrity than to spawn revolution. Paul was not scared!

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  6. These are amazing times for Paul. He is out teaching and starting churches and writing letters. It is believed that the cities Paul visited in Ch 14, just before he returned to Jerusalem for the Council, was the region of Galatia and close to the end of Ch 14 is when Paul wrote is letter to the Galatians.

    Can you imagine, Paul wrote a letter to the Galatians and Luke didn't give it another thought...just another one of Paul's letters...yet it becomes one of the books of the Holy Bible.

    Amazing

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  7. First Thought: "And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit...."

    There is a great little booklet by Watchman Nee called Ministering to the House or Ministering to the Lord?. Couple with this verse, it causes me to think that we first must minister to our Lord God and then the Holy Spirit speaks!

    Avail ourselves to Him and He prevails in our lives !

    Secound Thought:Acts 14:3 (New Century Version).....
    "Paul and Barnabas stayed in Iconium a long time and spoke bravely for the Lord. He showed that their message about his grace was true by giving them the power to work miracles and signs."

    Reliance on Him....brought about the reality of His bearing witness to word of His grace,,,, God was doing the showing and allowed them the power to perform miracles,

    Always a reminder that "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit saith the Lord of Hosts" Zechariah 4.6

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