BSF Acts Study: Week 8, Day 1

2. My take-away from the notes this week was about ways that the local church is built and strengthened.  When I think of mission work, either local or away from home, I think mostly about doing works or building relationships to spread the word of the Lord.  Clearly, that is a major emphasis and we have seen Paul and Barnabas doing that everywhere they went.  But that is only the first step.  For that seed to take root it must be nurtured.  I found the discussion on page 4 about strengthening, preparing, uniting and committing the new believers into local churches very informative and good food-for-thought.    I had not thought about it before, but to realize that these new gentile believers were not welcome in the synagogues (the normal place for discussions about God), and as a result a new structure of house churches was being created even as the good news was being spread.  I also thought it was interesting to think about how Paul and Barnabas strengthened their home church in Antioch with the stories about their trip.  I had thought about their time back at the church as a way for them to re-energize and rest, but hadn’t thought about how powerful and inspiring their tales would be to the believers in the local church.

BSF Acts: Bible Lesson 8 – Acts 14: Lecture

Aim: A relationship with Christ requires commitment.  Commitment means not quitting when things get hard.

Introduction:  Have you ever ridden on a roller coaster?  When you decide to do it, you step into the car, snap the safety belt and the train leaves the station.  You are committed all the way through, there isn’t anywhere to get off or turn back.  When Paul and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit in Antioch to go on this mission trip, they prayed about it, the church prayed and fasted, they knew this is what they were supposed to do.  They got onboard and strapped in.  No matter the ups and downs, no matter how scary, they were going all the way. That’s commitment.

Last week we saw Paul and Barnabas shaking the dust from their feet as they left Pisidian Antioch, wanting to leave the negative things behind them.  This week we see that the negative people followed them anyway, but some truly amazing things happen in spite of the opposition.

 

1st Division: Acts 14: 1-7 Paul and Barnabas speak effectively and boldly and many believe, but division occurs.

Principle: The power of the spirit raises the notice of the opposition

Illustration: Picture this: In a football game, a player is fumbling the ball, missing catches, doing bad passes or hand-offs and you are the coach of the other team.  How many of your players are you going to devote to covering this person?  Probably none.  It is like they are on your team already.  But what about the player who is doing everything well and scoring lots of points for their team.  You might double or even triple team that player.  We see this with Paul and Barnabas, but we also see it with our christian leaders today.  When you are actively spreading the word and being bold and effective, evil powers will be sent to put pressure on you, to get in your way and to try to prevent you from winning.  Thankfully, God has the master game plan!

Application:  Are you asking for the ball?  Are you practicing to be a better player on God’s team?  Would satan worry about getting in your way?

 

2nd Division: Acts 14: 8-18 Paul and Barnabas show the power and majesty of the Creator, but the people of Lystra give credit to the created.

Principle: Only those who truly listen receive the miracle of faith

Illustration: When my wife was a child her parents saved up for months to buy her and her sister a kitchen set for Christmas.  After opening the gift, the 2 kids spent much of the rest of the day playing with the box, ignoring the actual gift.  This is how people can be.  The healing of the lame man was only the outer wrapping of the actual healing that was occurring in his soul.  The ability to walk on this earth was very short compared to his ability to walk the streets of heaven.

Application:  Where are you being blinded by the wrappings instead focusing on the real gift?  Where do you need to listen first so that you may be blessed?

 

3rd Division: Acts 14: 19-28 The Jews arrive, Paul is stoned, Paul is revived and continues in strength

Illustration: Life is full of peeks, valleys and plains.  When we are a committed christian we will face opposition and persecution, and while we may not be stronger and we may be afraid and beaten down to our very last breath, God is stronger.  God doesn’t ask us to go on alone.  He doesn’t promise a smooth path, just the opposite, but he does promise to yolk us together with Him and with others.  Often we gain our greatest encouragement and strength from those we teach.  This is what Paul and Barnabas experienced as they finished their roller coaster ride back to its starting point in Antioch.

Application: Are you committed?  Do you desire a flat trail – if so that might only be achieved once you flatline?  Who are you encouraging and teaching so that you might be strengthened?

 

Conclusion: Lynn Anderson may have summed it up best – “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.  Along with the sunshine, there’s got to be a little rain sometimes.”

BSF Acts: Week 7, Day 6 – Acts 14:20b–28

Acts 14:20b–28.

15. I think Paul and Barnabas strengthened and united the disciples through teaching, leadership, helping them establish organization and leadership, through prayer, through a pattern of worship and through hands-on-blessings?

16. Faith is like a muscle, to be strengthened it must be exercised which can be difficult.  I want to encourage others to persevere and to establish a “faith exercise routine.” (something I need to do far more of myself)

Acts: Week 7, Day 4

Acts 14:19–20a and 2 Timothy 3:10–17.

Summary:  The wolves arrive in Wolf Land!  Out of town Jews travel over 100 miles to “win the crowd”.  They take stone Paul and take him out of the city, but after they leave him for dead he got up and went back into town.

10. How quickly things can turn and how dangerous crowds (mobs) can become.  But, seriously, after being left for dead by stoning Paul gets up and “went back into town”!?!?!  I cannot see myself ever stepping foot back in the gates!

11. From Acts 16:1–3; Philippians 2:19–21; and 2 Timothy 1:2–5:

a. Timothy

b. I’m assuming this question refers to Gal 5:22-23 the fruits of the spirit (especially since that was the children’s memory verse this week!) Paul, in Timothy, found love, joy, kindness, goodness and faithfulness

c. God provides, through trials and persecution come blessings, the spirit blesses us through those we help teach and lead

12. (Challenge) I think this question is asking if Paul died at Lystra and then came back from the dead.  Did he have an experience such as described in modern books such as Heaven is for Real or The boy who came back from heaven (both great reads, BTW)?  Reading verse 5 of 2 Corinthians 12, I don’t think so.  I think, in these verses he is talking about John.  Paul may have died and been revived and he may have had a vision of heaven and the writing of this second letter to the Corinthians may have been 14 years later, but I think this passage refers to the Revelation to John – Rev 1:9-10, Rev 4:1

Conclusion: This verse and a half are the patron verses (is there such a thing?) of anyone who has worked in senior management, particularly at a large corporation.  One day you can do no wrong.  The people think you are a god.  The next, a new consultant/author/leader comes on the scene.  Next thing you know, you are being dragged outside the city walls and people are hurling stones at you!

Matthew Henry once said, “popular breath turns like the wind.”  In our culture being liked, being popular, fitting in, particularly in youth but, frankly in all of us, can become an obsession.  We can count and compare how many “friends” we have on Facebook.  We can turn the television on to any number of shows based on judges criticizing (lambasting for sport) contestants.  Paul learned a very important lesson in Lystra that he never forgot.  It is never about Paul’s ministry, it is always about Jesus Christ.

Finally – is anyone else having a Sergeant Peppers album flashback???  Paul is dead.  I buried Paul.  (sorry, another one of those generational moments I have!)

Acts: Week 7, Day 3

Read Acts 14:8–18; Psalm 19:1–6; and Romans 1:18–32.

Summary:  P&B move out of Iconium to Lystra and Derbe, smaller towns in the Lycaonians region.  They preach and do miracles, but face a new challenge, the people want to worship them as gods rather than worship the true God of their message.  P&B mourn, tearing their clothes, and attempt to set the people straight.

Questions

6. a. Preach first.

b. He listened and had faith to be healed

7. They were the messengers.  They could not be confused with the master.  The people wanted to accredit worship to them, which was the same as denying the only true on worthy of worship, God.

8. a. They worshiped “worthless things”.  They had been allowed to go their own way.

b. Turn / No Longer — Worthless / Futile

9. a. There is no “ignorance” defense for not believing.  God’s power and divine nature are evident in all creation and His work and blessings have been ongoing: rain, crops, food, abundance.

b. From all creation.  From the bible.  From Believers.  From a thorough examination: it is the explanation with the least “leap of faith”.

c. It stands in opposition to their gods and belief system.  Zeus is a child of Uranus and Earth.  Hermes is a messenger  These are man made gods as opposed to the one true God who created all.

Conclusion: The area that Paul and Barnabas are now in is a very large elevated plain.  See this photo of the area.  The area was ideal for raising sheep and the King of Galatia is said to have had as many as 300 flock of sheep of his own (anywhere from 12,000 to over 100,000 head of sheep) in this area, not counting those privately owned.  Sadly, the people of the area appear, at least at this time, to be much more comfortable being sheep than shepherds.  Interesting to note that the greek word, Lycaonia, literally means Wolf Land!

They speak a very different dialect and appear to have a difficult time seeing the depth and power of Paul’s message.  They see the miracle, but like so many today, they can not see the bigger picture and try to process the miracle within their jaded mindset.

I recently read the formal report of a cardiologist who went to Joplin.  He saw first hand the miracles that happened.  People huddles in a closet who survive only to find the only walls in their house still standing is this one closet, or those lying in a bathtub who open their eyes to find their entire driveway and house ripped away, but their bathtub untouched.  Through it, he first had heard the stories of the winged ladies who sheltered and protected these people.  He knew it to be true enough that he wrote of it in his official newsletter to all patients and partners.  But felt compelled to add the line “people have to believe in something.”

Acts: Week 7, Day 2

Acts 14:1–7

Summary: Paul and Barnabas preached “as usual”, effectively and boldy, in Iconium.  God confirms His message of grace through miracles.  The city is divided into two camps, Apostles and Jews.  P&B learn of a plot to stone them so they leave for the outlying towns.

Questions

3. a. Effectively and boldly

b. Because I have learned to rely on the words of the bible and not my own, my witnessing is effective.  However, I find that I am mostly bold in situations which probably do not require much boldness.

4. The word was spoken, many are saved, miracles are performed, but opposition was organized against the truth.

5. They rejected the message as being the truth and, as a result, fought it with the same fervor that Saul did before he saw the light.  This is not a surprising reaction, although it is wrong.

Conclusion: Iconium, modern Konya, is on a roadway southeast of Pisidian Antioch by approximately 100 miles.  According to last week’s notes, we learned that Romans considered a good day travel in this region to be about 16 miles so it would have taken the better part of a full week of travel to get here  As you can see from maps of the area, Iconium is on a direct pathway, and roadway of that day, from Pisidian Antioch to Tarsus (Paul’s home town).  The city, which was the capital of the area of Lycaonia, sits on the western edge of a great plain at 3600 feet elevation (more on this on Week 7, Day 3 Questions).

As the apostles head in the direction of Tarsus, they begin experiencing more of the fervor that Saul brought to the scene in his previous life.  The Jews who stand in opposition to the truth, particularly now that “their God” is being co-opted into a God who is available to gentiles without them becoming jewish, is hitting a little too close to the core of what they hold as “theirs alone.”  As a result, the passion against the truth is rising.  Even with the authorities in Jerusalem, in opposition to Peter, we saw them mostly imprison, scold, and beat the Apostles.  But, here, now, we see the people move quickly from treating them as guests invited to speak in the temple to something less that human that you would kill without trial by a mob throwing stones at it.

We will see Paul return to each of these places where seeds have been planted in future chapters of Acts and in the epistles.  However, we also know that he felt the hatred of those who stood in opposition not only of him but of the grace of God.  In 2 Tim 3:14 he recounts the persecution that he faced in this area.

Acts: Week 7, Day 1

2.  There were three things that I found very interesting in this week’s notes. 

The first was that Paul’s three missionary trips, the heart of his ministry, in total lasted only 10-13 years.  What an amazing impact he made in such a short period of time.  I have worked at jobs for more than 10 years and accomplished far, far less!

The second was the distance and terrain that Paul and his various companions travelled.  In this first mission trip of 3 years, they spend almost 10 percent of their total time travelling from place to place, over treaturous seas and snow covered mountains on rickety bridges..  In each new town they have to find lodging and work (they supported themselves along the way so as not to be a burden or lead anyone astray.) 

Third was the realization that the only reason that we have the writings of Paul is because God allowed him to be imprisoned.  Had it not been for his forced solitude, it is clear that he would be in the field saving souls, not locked in a cell with someone documenting the notes, information and faith. 

We are so richly blessed by the way that the Holy Spirit worked through this one man’s life.  But, to me, the biggest realization is that the power of the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to work to that level again, today, in any devoted christian.  Who knows what an amazing story our generation of believers may leave to childrena dn grand-children.

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.

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.