BSF Acts: Week 17: Lecture

I don’t lecture this week, but wanted to add my notes.

In this week’s lesson we get to see and learn a lot about power.  In some ways the salvation that we receive when we believe and receive the holy spirit in our lives to begin living an eternal life is a lot like a power tool.  Think about it.  People can build amazing things with power tools.  We can build homes, furniture, bridges, buildings.  We can shape rock and literally move mountains.  But there are two really important things that have to go with it.  One is training.  If you don’t know how to use a power tool it doesn’t do much good.  The word of God is similar.  We’ll see this week that just knowing the name of Jesus doesn’t get the job done, you need to actually know Jesus through his word.  The second is that, to work right, the power tool needs to be plugged in.  We need to stay connected to God and to other believers and we see not only Paul encouraging and spending time with other believers, but we see those believers spending time with Paul when he is in need.  We can stay connected today by reading the bible, connecting in our church and through BSF.  Let’s get into the word.

1st Division: Acts 18:23-28

In this first section we get to meet Apollos.  Apollos was blessed in many ways by God.  Not only did he have knowledge of, what we call today, the old testament, but he had fervor – energy – for speaking God’s word.  He had been baptized in the cleansing water of John’s baptism, to wash away sin.  But he hadn’t been exposed to the entire teaching about Jesus after the resurrection.  God set his path so he met Priscilla and Aquila.  These teachers took him in and provided him with additional training.  They expanded his knowledge and helped the spirit touch his heart.  Not only that, but they helped him further his ministry and mission work by sending letters ahead to friends in Corinth.

People were given power throughout the old testament.  One thing we saw that was interesting, particularly with Moses is the way he would get charged up from time in the tabernacle – he even had a glow to him – but over time that charge faded and he had to keep going back.  You see, when God first created us (Adam and Eve that is) we were completely connected to Him.  They walked and talked together everyday, living fully in the presence of God.  But then they decided to pull the plug on the relationship by breaking the one rule He gave them.  But, with the good news of Jesus Christ, the circuit has been completed again.  When we accept the gift of salvation we don’t just get charged up, but God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us – connected forever to the source of all the power in the universe.

Who do you need to help get connected to the power of Christ?  Who is afraid, hurting or sad, that you can be a witness to?

How are you going to use the power flowing through you?

2nd Division: Acts 19

In this next section we see the role that people play in relaying the power of God through teaching and healing.

First we see Paul planting a new church in Ephesus.  Let’s look at the way he did it.  First.  He went to where people were going who were hungy for the word of God – he went to the synagogue.  He did that for 3 months, touching many people, but he ran into so many barriers in the form of opposition from the jews that he moved out.  But he didn’t form a new church to meet every Sunday.  Let’s look at what he did.  He moved into a school.  He set up every afternoon to welcome and dialogue with people who wanted to learn.  Not once a week, not him up front in a one way speech/sermon.  It was a round table dialogue of learning.  Notice what it says – he stayed for 2 years until all Asia heard the word – talk about being thorough!

Then we hear this story about the seven sons of Sciva.  They obviously did not participate in these daily training sessions.  They knew the name of Jesus.  They knew the power of that name – but they did not actually know Jesus.  They didn’t have a relationship with Him.  They weren’t plugged in.  Now, we learn that demons may be unfriendly but they aren’t stupid.  The demon possessed man knew Jesus and Paul – but didn’t know them.  He jumped them and beat them until they changed from the sons of sciva into the sons in skivies!

From this people got the message and turned more and more to the ways of the Lord.  Things get rolling so much that the business people who make and sell idols start getting nervous and upset.  They have inventory to move and turn into an angry mob.  A city clerk steps in an calms things down and we see from this interaction that the city is pretty set on keeping one foot in the world of idols.  It is going to be a challenging area for the church – as areas of commerce and wealth often are.

Through this all we see how powerful God is compared to everything else and how he moves.  But as importantly, we see that God is in complete control of His power.  With less than a whisper, He could cause everyone to know Him.  But, that isn’t faith.  He doesn’t want to convince us – He wants us to believe, to trust and have faith.  To want to know more about Him and to want to connect to His power.

Besides BSF – how are you learning more about God?  Who do you need to spend time talking with daily?  Do you talk with God daily  – that might be a great place to start?

 

3rd Division – Acts 20 – 21:15

Paul wraps up this missionary trip with teaching and conviction.  You know, conviction is an interesting word – literally, it means “with proof”.  Paul is so connected to the power of God that this is no longer any question.  He doesn’t just believe it – he knows the good news as fact.

Paul joins believers in Troas and teaches late into the night – so late that one of the believers falls to sleep and falls out of a third story window and dies.  That’s right – if you ever feel like I’m boring you to death – I’m doing just as good as Paul!  But talk about being connected to the power of God – Paul rushes out and hugs the boy and he is brought back to life.

But Paul is also convicted to his calling.  There is no question this is going to be a tough road and Paul has no expectation of returning – but he is being called to Jerusalem.  Despite tearful good byes.  Despite prophesies of being bound and killed.  Paul is determined to do God’s will – period.

Why is Paul not afraid of going to Jerusalem?  Of being bound and probably killed?  Because he knows that death is not the end.  He is living an eternal life right now – connected to the Holy Spirit.  Death only means shedding the constraints of this world to continue what he is doing – living for God.

What are you afraid of?  Is God bigger that it?

BSF Acts: Week 17, Day 5: Acts 20:13–21:15

Summary:

Paul meets with the leaders from Ephesus in a closing message of faith and hope as he sets his sights and begins the path to Jerusalem.  He is warned and foretold of the tribulation that awaits him there, but his calling leads him on

Questions:

13. humility and tears, severely tested by plots of the Jews, taught publicly and house-to-house

14. a. 20:27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.  I think this speaks to the boldness in the message that Paul had and encouraged others to have that I do not always possess.  I hesitate a lot.  I discuss rather than proclaiming and I spoon out the will of God in discussions rather than proclaiming the whole will of God.

b. Paul was vulnerable, confident and bold all at the same time.  This can only happen in a setting and with a group where there is loving fellowship.  Paul spoke openly of his life and desires and concerns and maintained confidence despite urgings from others for a less bold path

15. a. 35 more blessed to give than to receive

b. Start with how can I serve rather than what’s in it for me.

Conclusion:

Conviction. 

I worked with a lady who used to talk about how she tried to be a confident person.  For example, when she would get the message on her computer “the following action will erase your files, are you sure?”  She would explain, they clearly don’t know me – I am always sure.  I am not always right, but I am always sure.

Paul was sure as well.  The Latin roots of the word conviction mean, with proof.  Paul was plugged into the spirit and lived in that power to the extent that the message of the gospel wasn’t a belief – it was lived with proof as a fact.  He was convicted of his sin, he was convicted to the message, he had conviction in his delivery and he had conviction in his mission.   

But the biggest difference in the confidence and conviction that Paul had and my friend had is that what he was confident in was always right.

BSF Acts: Week 17, Day 4: Acts 20:1–12

Summary

Paul continued to encourage and teach.  Luke identifies the team that is accompanying Paul (not a solo journey).  Eutychus falls asleep during Paul’s message and dies from the fall, but he is brought back to life.

Questions:

10. To speak words of encouragement to new believers and the forming church and to continue to spread the news of Jesus to all who would listen

11. a. He fell into a deep sleep, fell from the upstairs window and died
b. To stay active in the word, not passively listening.  To give God the honor of being prepared to hear his word, not being too tired from other endeavors

12. He brought him back from the dead, took communion, and went back to teaching and talking.

Conclusion:

This is one of my favorite passages.  One of my children’s program co-leaders tells a story a couple of years ago.  He was giving the lecture on a particular night when one of the boys (a children’s leaders child, of course) raised his hand.  Since he was persistent in raising his hand, the leader called to him.

“Yes?”

“Mr. _____, you are boring me to death.”

It is so reassuring to any of us who find ourselves teaching the word, that this even happened to Paul!

BSF Acts: Week 17, Day 3: Acts 19

Summary:

Paul in Ephesus teaches about baptism by the holy spirit.  He moves his daily teaching out of the synagogue into a school.  Non-believers attempt to use the power of Jesus’ name, but they are not connected to the source of the power.  Healing and miracles occur and many confess, believe and shed themselves of old sins (burn scrolls).  Paul leaves to continue his mission work and a riot breaks out spurred by the idol makers guild.  A city clerk calms the crowd, reminding them there is a proper process for grievances that doesn’t involve angry mobs.

Questions:

5. They had been cleansed of sin (repentance), but had not been baptized into the Lord Jesus and received the Holy Spirit?

6. Paul taught in the Synagogue for three months, but after being publicly maligned he moved out to a lecture hall of Tyrannus and taught for 2 more years so everyone heard and he was performing great signs and miracles.

7. There is power in God’s name, but not as an incantation.  We are a conduit of the power but we must be connected to the source

8. a. They changed their lives.  They purged themselves of wickedness even at a cost (the cost was to keep others from the same sin)
b. (Personal) Time wasters.  Those worthless diversions that bring no value to myself or others and waste the gift of time that He has given me.

9. (Challenge) There is no authority on earth except what God allows.  God is not against governments, he sets the boundaries of nations, nor is he aligned with a political group.  His kingdom in the bounds of this world.

  • Acts 19:23–41 City clerk calms idol makers’ mob
  • John 19:10–11 Pilate authority over Jesus: Only what given to him by God;
  • Acts 16:37–39 Paul and Silas after prison earthquake: magistrates appease because they are Roman citizens
  • Romans 13:1–7, submit to governing, no authority except given by God

 

Conclusions:

There is a lot of neat stuff in today’s scripture.  Some people burn “valuable” scrolls others create a riot because peoples’ changed lives threaten their business model.

One of the neatest parts I saw was the model that Paul established for planting a new church.  He didn’t build a building and start having Sunday services.  He started by daily study groups.  He created a place and time that people could come and discuss and have their questions answered, every day.  The more he opened up the good news to the people the more power flowed through Paul – not his own power, but the power of the spirit – that even by touching his used sweat rags caused healing.

 

BSF Acts: Week 17, Day 2: Acts 18:23–28

Summary:

We are introduced to Apollos, a brilliant and articulate man with a fervor for God.  After additional instruction from Aquilla and Priscilla he goes on to provide great teaching and ministry in Corinth.  So great that there is division in Corinth over which preacher they follow which Paul attempts to correct in a letter to them

Questions:

3. a. The region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples

b. (Personal) My family, my BSF group of kids (and indirectly their parents), my co-workers and employees

4. a. a learned man, thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord, spoke with great fervor, he taught accurately and spoke boldly

b. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  If he knew only the baptism of John then he new the messiah had come, the son of God himself, to save the world, but he may not have had complete understanding of the resurrection.

c. They encouraged and helped pave the way for him to go into Christian ministry and missionary work.  They were from Corinth and sent letters ahead to the disciples there.

d. People in Corinth began following and idolizing the preacher instead of the message being preached.  They began forming factions of Paul followers vs Apollos followers.  Paul makes 2 points: we are both only men/servants; we are a team (I planted seed, he watered it, God made it grow).  Apollos wanted to stay away to not cause disharmony.

Conclusions:

What was Apollos most admirable trait?  This wasn’t a BSF question, but one I thought was interesting.  He had great intellect, poise and presence.  He had great command of the scriptures.  He was articulate and passionate.  All of those are great characteristics.  But to me was the fact that he set all that aside to receive additional instruction from Aquilla and Priscilla.  Keep in mind these were not university professors or temple scholars – they were tent makers.  But Apollos recognized the truth in their message and saw the spirit move in their instruction. 

I think his most admirable trait was a characteristic that he apparently didn’t have: arrogance.  So often higher learning and strong persuasive skills lead men to believe the more or better than others.  Apollos apparantly, as Paul put it to the Corinthians, was first and foremost a servant.