Bible Lesson 7: Acts 13 (Lecture)

Scripture: Acts 13

Aim: God’s workers tell the good news to those who have not heard it.

Introduction:  If  you are a fisherman, it might be a lot of fun to hang out in the fishing lodge and talking with other fishermen, but you won’t catch many fish that way.  You have to go where the fish are.

If you are a builder, it might be fun to grab a cup of coffee at the Home Depot and talk with other builders, but things are going to get built that way.  You have to go where the job site is.

If you are a disciple of Christ, it might be a lot of fun to hang out with other christians, but that isn’t the work we are called to do.  We are called to spread His name to those who haven’t heard it.  We are called to go where the work is.

First Division: Acts 13: 1-4 – Barnabas and Saul called out of the church in Antioch

Principle: Pray yields guidance from God

Illustration:  I have a soccer ball that kept going flat on me.  I would pump it up and then a few days later I would have to do it again.  To find out where the leak was I pumped up the ball then was very quiet and put my ear up to the ball.  Sure enough, if I was quiet enough I could hear it leaking air.  But I still didn’t know where.  So I filled up a bucket with water and put the ball down in it.  Sure enough, I could see bubbles and found the leak.  Prayer works much the same way.  We start by being very quiet and listening for God to speak to us.  When we seek His direction He makes things visible so we know exactly where to go.

Application: Are you spending quiet time with God each day?  Do you pray for guidance or just for luxuries?  Do you pay attention when God is showing you areas you need to patch in your own life?

Second Division: Acts 13: 5-12 The Proconsul of Cyprus seeks, hears, sees and believes

Principle: The power of the Holy Spirit always defeats evil.

Illustration: Do you know the difference between light and darkness?  Is there light in the world?  Is there darkness?  Do you know the difference between right and wrong?  Is there right in the world?  Is there wrong?  Do you know the difference between good and evil?  Is there… is there…?  So if you walk into a dark room and turn on a light, which wins, light or dark?  Can you turn on a dark light and make things darker?  Light always is more powerful  Which is more powerful: right or wrong?  Good or Evil?  Which always wins, God’s ways or evil’s ways?  So whenever you are afraid, know that you are not relying on yourself – you have the full power of God’s Holy Spirit in you – which is stronger that or whatever you are afraid of?

Application:  When you are afraid, do you shrink back or call on the power of the Spirit?  Do you recognize evil and call it what it is or are you too polite? 

Third Division: Acts 13: 13-52 Paul and Barnabas reach the crossroads: Jews reject, Gentiles rejoice

Principle: God’s protection turns persecution to joy

Illustration: The comforts of a warm house on a cold, snowy, windy day.  Snuggled up to a fire with a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.  We see this image and smile, despite the frigid storm outside.  In fact, the frigid storm is what brings us to this place of comfort and joy.  Persecution for spreading God’s truth works the same way.  We don’t hide from it, but we are sheltered from the storm by God’s overflowing love.

Application: Do you avoid the storms?  If so, you might be missing the comforts?  Do you snuggle up with THE good book each day? 

Conclusion:  A little boy was terribly afraid of the dark.  One evening his mother asked him to get the broom from the garage.  The light switch was out of his reach and he was horribly afraid  His mother reminded him of the lesson he had learned in church that he did not need to be afraid because Jesus was always with him.  The young boy pondered this for a moment, then boldly went to the garage door, opened it and in a loud voice stated, “Hey, Jesus, can you hand me the broom?”  While we laugh at this, we see it lived out in our lesson this week.  Paul and Barnabas are called into scary new places, with new and often unfriendly people.  While Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is with them every step, guiding them and comforting them – they are called to do the work, to speak the words and to spread the news.

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Acts: Week 6, Day 5

Acts 13:42–52.

Envy and jealousy prevent Jews from accepting the gift.  Paul calls them on their rejection and quotes Isaiah – a light to the gentiles is now on the move.  Paul and Barnabas leave the torment behind, shaking the very dirt from their sandals, and carry on in joy.

13. Salvation is not a one time event – it means to live a changed life.  To lean on and trust in the Lord daily and in all things.  Grace is also the means to faith (Eph 2:8: it is by grace you have been saved through faith

14. (Challenge) a.  Reject:

Rom 2:8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger

b.

Isa 49:6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

15. a The gentiles listened and were saved.  The Jews did not and were not

b. Too often I obsess and it festers.  I need to be better at shaking it off and letting it go.  I love the analogy of shaking the dust from my feet – not bringing any part of their negativism along with me.

 

Conclusion:

Paul is not one to mince words.  It is not accept the gift or don’t accept the gift.  There is no neutral state in Paul’s message.  You are either going forward or you are in reverse.  There is no parking.  You either accept the truth that Jesus is Lord or you have rejected it, calling it a lie. 

Again – Paul cuts to the chase of the truth in a way that we are all to “wishy-washy” about today.  We allow so many to take a neutral stance, at least in their eyes.  “I’m not going to say you are lying in what you say about the gospel, but, while it may be true for you it is not necessarily true for me.”  And, we let it go.  In the words of the bible, that is the worst possible position to take.  Either accept it or reject it, but don’t be luke warm.  Why?  Because it corrupts the truth.  It chisels away, not in an attack on the truth, but like rain does, one drop at a time it wears away at the truth, not making it less true, but by creating a rule of tolerance where you are not allowed to speak the truth because it may not fit someone else’s belief system – no matter that their belief system is wrong and will land them in eternal damnation – we are too polite. 

Paul was not polite.

Acts: Week 6, Day 4

Acts 13:14b–41.

Paul preaches in the open synagogue at Pisidian Antioch.  He explains that Jesus was foretold by and fulfilled the scriptures, that Jesus is the risen Lord and that through Jesus is forgiveness of sins and justification above what the law could ever provide.

9. a. 16,26,39

b. (1) 17: The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers, made them prosper in Egypt and led them out 19: Overthrew 7 nations and gave their land to his people

(2) 18: He endured their conduct

(3) 20-25: Judges to Kings to King David to John the Baptist

10. He has convicted me of my sins and provided me with God fearing people in my life who helped guide me into the bible, into BSF and into a church that adheres to the word of God.

11.27: in fulfillment of prophecy, Jews conspired against Jesus, 29: He was crucified and died and was buried.  30: raised from the dead, 31: seen for many days. 37: raised, never to decay

12. In the third section of this sermon:

a. 38: the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed

b. 39″ believe

c. Acknowledge Jesus as the Son of the Living God, my Lord and Savior and act appropriately for that acknowledgement

d. Those who scoff, wonder and perish.

e. They mock, deride and jeer at both the word of God and of the people that follow that word.  They decide that we are too sophisticated, too advanced, too wise and that the bible is simply superstition.  Theyridicule believers for not accepting that anyone’s beliefs are as justifiable and true as their own.

 

Conclusion:

Paul’s sermon resounds in the Nicene and Apostole’s Creeds.  It is a simple statement of the facts.  No cajoling.  No pleading.  No watering down.  He simply states the historical promise, how that promise was fulfilled and the gift that fulfillment provides. 

We struggle so often with what words to use to encourage a non-believer, that sometimes we skip over the most obvious: simply state the facts and let the Holy Spirit act. 

Acts: Week 6, Day 3

Acts 13:1–14a.

After establishing leaders and teachers in the church in Antioch, Saul and Barnabas are called out by the Holy Spirit on a mission trip.  After prayer and fasting, the church sends them forth.  They travel broadly and deliver the good news to many.

5. a. Told by the Holy Spirit

b. Pray, fast and ask other members of the faith to do the same.  Seek the blessing of the church.

6. a. Barnabas (and Saul) / Saul AKA Paul

b. Filled Paul with the H/S, Blinded Elymas, converted the procounsel

7. a. Pamphylia to return to Jerusalem

b. We don’t know.  Could have been that he felt called back to Jerusalem.  Could have been fear.  Could have been concern over Paul’s illness and if this was right (Gal 4:13), Could have been issues that power was switching from Barnabas (his cousin) to Saul.  We don’t know!

c. For a period of time, he lost Saul’s respect.  He also lost participation in what was happening next in their mission

d. Jerusalem

e. We don’t know.  Maybe it taught Mark a lesson and he grew to be a stronger missionary? 

f. (Personal) Have I not gone a mission trip that later I regretted?   Have I ever let someone down and that shaped me to be a better person so that I wouldn’t do it again?  Have I fallen back to a position of comfort and safety when I wasn’t ready to face the trials around me?  Yes, yes and yes.  France and Joplin.  Too many people to name including close family and friends.  Almost on a weekly basis.

8. Paul’s first Mission Trip

Conclusion: I become frustrated by the “just suppose” questions.  I’m of the belief that if it was material for the message of truth, then we would know, but little is gained by guessing the what’s and why’s that an action was taken.    We know that Mark left.  We know Saul was frustrated by it.  We know that later Saul’s opinion of Mark changes with the conclusion that this is because Mark changed.  We know Mark later wrote the gospel.  We know that all events in our life and the decisions we make shape our learning and growth.  But we seldom know why.

Now, off of my soap box.  We are getting into territory that I struggle with.  Not that I don’t understand maps, because I do, but because the names and arrows don’t tell me about the culture of the city.  For business I have travelled a lot and each town and city has it’s own feel to it.  So instead of focusing on distances and maps and arrows and miles, I researched the places in regard to feel of the town.

Antioch, we know, was a city of big commerce.  This was a hub of activity, a city with solid roots, great infrastructure and good growth.  It was one of the first cities to light their streets at night.  It was a hub of commerce on major trade routes.  This was a New York, Chicago, Denver, Dallas or LA. 

From Antioch they travelled to the nearest major port city, Seleucia.  There isn’t mention of specific preaching in this area, it seems like more of a launching off point, like a train or shipping hub.  New Orleans, Houston, Philedephia.

From here they go to the island of Cyprus.  We know that Barnabas grew up in Cyprus from Acts 4:36 and that many of the original preachers in Antioch were from Cyprus and Cyrene (Acts 11: 20).  So this was in some ways a first trip into a land with some ties to the church at Antioch.  They would have places to stay and people to meet. 

While on the island of Cyprus, they travel to the western edge to Paphos.  From what I’ve read, Paphos was the Las Vegas of that time.  (Interesting that the sin-city of their day was also the seat of government – no further comment on that one!).  There was heavy worship of Venus and Aphrodite, the goddesses of love and sex and immorality was rampant. (No offense to God fearing christians living in Vegas who might read this). 

There is tradition to indicate that while souls were converted it was not without price or pain.  Paul indicates in 2 Cor 11:24 that on 5 previous instances he had received 39 lashes (it was believed that 40 would kill a man).  It is tradition in the area that the first of these lashings for speaking of Jesus in the synagogues occurred in Cyprus in Paphos and that Bar-Jesus aka Elymas may have been present.

In Paphos they encounter the Jewish Sorcerer (that is an interesting oxy-moron), who had attached himself to the court.  After a smack down by Saul he is blinded but the proconsuls eyes are opened to faith in Jesus.  From this point forward, Saul is now Paul. 

Next they catch a boat off the island and head north and landed by Perga, which is a major coastal city, 5 miles inland from a major port of Attalia.  Perga is a very wealthy city and the capital of Pamphylia.  Mark catches a boat back to Jerusalem and Paul and Barnabas head farther inland to the north to Pisidian Antioch, which was the home of Sergius Paulus, the proconsul who had accepted the gift of salvation.  We finish our verses today as they enter the synagogue in that city.

Acts: Week 6, Day 2

2 Corinthians 11:23–12:12.

Paul addresses the Corinthian church teaching them about the real credentials of a faithful servant of Christ. 

We have observed how Jesus did not meet the preconceptions of the Jewish people that he came to save.  They expected someone bolder, taller, better looking, a warrior who would exalt them and conquer their oppressors.  They were not looking for someone to save them from their sins, they were looking for a champion to make them feel better by knocking down the other guys for a change. 

In much the same way, Paul did not meet the expectation of the Corinthian church and, in fact, some other false preachers had entered the scene who better met the image they had in mind.  The other “super apostles” were better looking, more eloquent, dressed nicer, were friendlier.  In other words, from an earthly perspective, they had better credentials to preach.  Paul helps enlighten the church (and us) what real credentials look like.

3. 11:24 39 lashes; 11:25 beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, lost at sea; 11:26 homeless, dangers of loss of life from nature (sea, rivers) and men (bandits, Gentiles, own countrymen); 11:27 labored, sleepless, hunger, thirst, cold, naked; 11:28 anguish for churches; 11:29 tempted; 11:33 humiliation of being lowered in basket; 12:10 insults, hardships, persecution, difficulties

4. a. In 11:28 his anguish in concern for the church is greater than the physical abuse

b. Do I shrug when I see false teachings in the church and people being led away from the true word of God for a watered down version or does it cause me pain on par with physical beating?

c. This suffering was not a trivial thing, nor was it something put on display, it was simply who Paul was as a servant of the Lord.  He didn’t cover it up but nor would he allow others to diminish it.  If you fight the battle, you get scars.

 

Conclusion: How foolish we are if we believe there were false preachers in the early church and not today. 

In attempts to reach to the unchurched or those that had been disillusioned by the church, rather than delivering the message of the rock and firm foundation, too many deliver a watered down gospel that, while it won’t do you much good, is really easy to swallow.  They look the part, they dress the part, they read from the bible (selectively), they raise lots of money and sound really good.  We all know them and the “churches” they form.  But here is the deal.  When we don’t stand up and speak out in the truth of the gospel, we allow them to dishonor the battle scars of great soldiers like Paul, James, Stephen and most importantly, Jesus Christ.  The next time you hear a preacher say the words, “now the bible doesn’t really mean…” keep this in mind.

Acts: Week 6, Day 1

2. One of the things that struck me in the notes was the information provided about the hub of the church now moving to Antioch.  To me, this shows that the center of the church is not in some physical place, but that it is centered on where the spirit is moving, where the word is being preached and where brothers are responding, proactively, to the needs of other brothers.  It reminded me of the dialogue between Jesus and the woman at the well.  She challenged Jesus over the physical location of worship – the temple in Jerusalem.  In John 4:23 He replied: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”  I think we are seeing the church in Acts modeling worship in spirit and truth.

Living in Fear of the Lord

Acts 9:31 tells us the early church was, among other traits, “living in fear of the Lord.”  What does that mean?  Is that a good thing?

When we think of someone “living in fear” we think of that as a horrible state.  We think of a victim of abuse and domestic violence.  We think of someone in a rough area of town, always vigilant of gang violence, shootings, muggings, rape and murder.  We think of someone who has a horrible secret, an unconfessed wrongdoing that they suffer its revelation every day.

If that is what is meant by “living in fear of the Lord” then, for most of us, our first thought would be: count me out!

But as I prayed on this and researched it, I found a completely different, but accurate, meaning.  In Isaiah 11:2, we learn that “the fear of the Lord” is a gift of the Spirit, on the same par with “wisdom, understanding, counsel and power.”  Clearly, this isn’t something to avoid or dread.  So what is it?

Christ refers to “God the Father”, which prompted me to think in terms of fear of my Dad.  I grew up far before the days of “time out” and when I, justly, had pushed things to the degree that I was going to receive a deserved spanking, then I had a clear element of fear.  But that was seldom and a last resort, so I didn’t believe that is what these verses were trying to portray.  Instead I thought more to my teen and adult years and my view of my Father.

I grew up in an area where, from my perspective at least, everyone knew my father.  He has been gone from this earth for 7 years and, on a weekly basis, I will still run into someone who recognizes me because of my Dad.  My Dad cared for me, loved his family, went to church was involved in the community and did his best to follow God’s design for his life.  As I matured to the point that I understood this and appreciated it, I realized that one of my greatest fears was to do something to let my Father down or cast him in a negative light.  How could I repay his love and devotion, not to mention his support and patience, by dishonoring him or his name?

I think this type of fear is what is meant by “living in fear of the Lord.”  When we mature to the point that we recognize the love and sacrifice that our Lord has made for us, we should live our lives guardedly.  How could we ever desire to disappoint or reflect His love and gifts to us in a negative light by our actions?  We live in fear, not of punishment or retribution, but that, by our actions, we would somehow fail to show our appreciation, respect and honor for the Father who has given us so much – His only Son!

They say that there are healthy fears.  Fear of power tools, fear of great heights, fear of electricity.  These fears don’t paralyze us, but they cause us to be attentive in all that we do.  I believe that as we mature in our faith and the Spirit grants us the amazing gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel and power, we also receive a very healthy and humbling gift of being able to “live in fear of the Lord.”

What are you thoughts and experiences?  Please comment back to me!