Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reading Challenge: Acts 16-17

Amazing thoughts yesterday everyone! Continue to read we a cautious eye and an open mind to what God may be saying to you right now through these passages. They are rich with instruction for us. 

Today's readings are from Acts 16-17

Chapter 16:
I'm amazed that after all the discussion from Ch. 15 about whether or not the Gentiles should follow Jewish custom and so forth that Paul decided that Timothy should be circumcised...interesting. It is neat to see how Paul came upon Timothy in this passage too because we know later that Paul ends up writing two letters to Timothy, one being the last one he would ever write. I also love the story of the "Macedonia vision." I feel that God still opens up doors like this and give us direction in ways like this. For example, we have had many people asking for us to plant a Journey campus in Hartsville. This is kind of like a Macedonia call. 

Chapter 17:
My favorite story in Acts 17 is the story of Paul going to Athens. I could preach an entire sermon and write a week's worth of blog post on this chapter. So...I'll let you give your thoughts and comments on this chapter and throw my thoughts in as you guys toss it around.



  1. Jealousy! What a theme we continue to see. It was not only that the Jews and others disagreed with Paul it was jealousy! Their hearts had been harden by "religion" and a "Prestigous Position" Under Paul's teaching's of this New Life in Christ ALL could now connect to God even the Gentiles. We still see this today in the church today!
    Paul was perplexed by the culture he found in Athens. All of the idols and secularism of "New Age" religions of the Greeks. (Sounds like today huh?) He had to take a stand and He preached the Gospel to them and even used a portion of their of culture, a poet, saying "We are His offspring." We need to be aware of our surroundings as Christians and not bury our head in the sand but know what is in our culture. When you fight a battle you must know the opponent.
    As Christ said, "He who has ears to hear, hear." and what do you know Paul was able to reach people, Dionysius and Damaris, and a number of others. Powerful.

  2. The Greeks were always known for their intellect and their reason; however, they were deeply religious, following what we now call Greek Mythology. I have always had an interest in Greek history so this was especially interesting to me. Paul was very clever in addressing the "Unknown Idol" the one they (Greeks) had worshiped without knowing. It is strange how such an educated people can be so ignorant toward God. I feel this is a major challenge today in America. Here we are a highly educated and literate society, yet some of our most educated people are completely blind to the teachings of Jesus. Reaching these people can present hurdles, but like Paul we must persevere, let the spirit lead us, and tell the truth regardless of reaction.

  3. "To the weak became I as weak,that I might gain the weak.."OUCH, what an ordination service for Timothy!Timothy is such an interesting person.He comes from a bi-racial family,and was probably raised by a single mother.He and his family probably were converted on Paul's first missionary trip through their town.Right away Paul takes him under his wing and looks on him as a son. Those troublesome Judaizers wanted Titus and the gentile converts to go under the law and become circumcised and the church rightly said-no.Now,vs.3 Timothy is being circumcised by Paul before he begins his ministry.Not because of peer pressure or to make him any "more saved",but to further the work of the gospel.Most forums for preaching were in the local synagogues, and as a pastor, he would not have been allowed to sit and fellowship with his church members at table.This goes to motive.He wasn't circumcised for salvation, but to remove himself as a stumblingblock and enable himself to Go and do the work.
    There is so much more in this chapter but someone else may speak on it.
    This next group of people were interesting.vs 21 says they spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.Ha ha, they sound like FB addicts.
    Philosophy is the science that considers truth.It's human wisdom and the city of Athens sounds a lot like our country.They were ever learning but never coming to the knowledge...There are basically two types of beliefs here.The Epicureans were materialistic,athiestic and loved pleasure.Hum? Sounds familiar.They believed a god existed, but he was way out there and not very interested in mankind.We should just enjoy life to it's fullest.Arn't they modern?Personally,
    I cringe when I hear people refer to God as"the man upstairs".
    Then there is the Stoic group.Today they'd be the self help crowd.They believed that life was to be endured.They thought that everything is god.God wasn't personal, just part of the universe like a spirit force.They were guided by their reasoning and were very self sufficient with no emotion.There was no joy or grief in life,just exist and accept.To them, suicide was the solution for failure.The Stoics thought that when you died, your soul was absorbed into nature(how many religions think like this?).The Epicureans thought death was the end of it.So you can imagine how radical this idea of Jesus sent by God because He loved mankind, to be the savior and that He not only died, but arose and lives and offers life and joy!
    To be a good missionary,a good testimony is important like with the case where Paul was falsely imprisioned and wanted to clear his name so as not to impede the gospel.Also important is to know your mission field.What are the customs,beliefs and such so you can avoid confrontation like in the case with Timothy and to know how to answer and speak to the people you are trying to reach.That's why we need to always have an answer ready for the hope that is in us.Paul's radical message was given a cool, but the ususal response.Some say out-right-No! Some want to think about it some more so they put salvation off for a more convenient time-Later!.Paul doesn't stick around to try to convince them either;that job belongs to the Holy Spirit.There are a few that believe and follow Paul as he heads off to another town.You gotta know this had to be a bit discouraging.God had closed off areas to Paul and sent him in this direction.He's in the will of God doing God's work and yet the people don't seem to be very receptive to the word.I'm sure it was hard to wait for Timothy and Silas to arrive to help encourage him and press on because there was so much more to do.We need to remember to be an encouragement to our pastor and tell him we love him and are praying for him.

  4. "...forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia."

    "... the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them."

    There are times we simply must not do that which seems normal. Why? Because, God may simply have another plan. The key is obedience so one can see the plan unfold verses complaining about the change of plans!

    "..."Sirs,what must I do to be saved? And they said,'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.'"

    Great to know that our Father is about saving whole families !!!!!

  5. Paul hit a home run in Athens. This encounter to me is the ultimate story of how to witness.

    Like Paul, we start out in our circle of comfort, talking about God with those who are like minded (Paul taught in the temple first). Soon, though, we are going to have to move from our inner circle into a less comfortable place where there are not so many like minded people everywhere...but it is our character and our passion that will get their attention (Paul preached in teh square to those who happened to be there that day).

    Sometimes if the Holy Spirit is at work in the things we do and say, we just may get invited into someone else's inncer circle and that invitation is what opens the door for real life transformation to begin (the leaders invited Paul into their inner circle after they heard him speak in teh square because they wanted to hear more).

    We can't ever forget that bringing people out of their inner circle into ours is not the goal. We are supposed to leave our circle and travel into theirs.

    Paul rocks!

  6. I think Paul's desire for Timothy to be circumcised is interesting. I think it speaks to our need to do what is necessary to gain standing or influence with those who do not believe.

    I, like Walker, also think Paul's wisdom shines when he uses the old "I'm here to tell you about the unknown God" approach. Thats great!