fbpx
Acts 14: the strengthening of souls

Acts 14: the strengthening of souls

How often do you think about the necessity of strengthening your soul?

How often do you think about the fact that others need encouragement, redirection, prayers?

How often do you think of trials and disappointments as training that is necessary to grow in your endurance in the faith?

This week we jump into Acts 14 to address some of these questions as well as wrapping up this first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas (seems like they have been on this mission forever doesn’t it?)

Take a second to Read Acts 14 in full before moving on to looking at some key points and questions to walk through the scripture.


Let’s start with breaking down v. 1-3

“Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

As we read these verses we are met with this idea of push back, rejection, of someone objecting the truth the disciples are presenting.

Ask yourself these questions:

(1) How do you handle push back? Truly.

(2) How do we typically see the church deal with opposition? Individually? Corporately?


We have to be aware of our own attitude towards opposition before we can know what to do to train ourselves in the strength and power of the Spirit.


So, how do you respond?

Do you tense up? Do you get fired up and say things harshly? Do you back down and leave silent? Do you seek peace above stating the truth you know to be?

What is your attitude?

Do you get mad? Do you feel defeated? Do you get annoyed? Do you exude patience? Do you have a loving spirit towards others?

Spend some time here and let your tendencies come to the surface. Place them at the feet of Jesus and ask for a spirit of confidence, a spirit of love, a spirit of power in His Name!


Now that you’ve thought through how YOU react, let’s look back and see how the disciples responded in vv. 3

“So they remained”

In another version the verse reading “Therefore they stayed”

In the face of opposition…they chose to stay.

In the face of hardship…they remained.

In the face of defeat…they fought on.

and

“[they spoke] boldly for the Lord”

Not only did Paul and Barnabas remain, they continued to fight for the name of the Lord to be proclaimed.


We need to remember that as Christians, our convictions matter. We must not back down from the things we believe, the things we know to be true. We must not let others sway us or let the opposition of culture leave us running to hide.


Ask yourself the following:

(1) What are the things you would choose to fight for?

(2) What’s the attitude you have to have to speak up and fight for something?

In our discussion on Sunday, KJ brought up a good point about how there needs to be both determination and conviction when it comes to things worth fighting for. Robbie similarly reminded us that often the things we choose to fight for comes from an extreme feelings about said thing; either we love it so much we choose to fight, or conversely our hate leads to strong action.


As Paul and Barnabas were obedient, faithful to continue in the work they had previously been commission for…the Lord meets them. As God is proclaimed, His Spirit provides. We have seen this in Acts several other times. Here, as the men are sharing of the name of the Lord, He is faithful to provide tangible “signs and wonders” for the crowds to see. God knew the people needed to hear AND see His Power in order to believe.

–> Have you ever seen the Lord’s power show up in your life as you were obedient to speak, to fight, to step out in faith?


Continuing on in the chapter with vv. 4-7

“But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel.”

Here we see Paul and Barnabas gaining discernment from the Spirit on knowing when to leave and take their efforts to another city.

Yes, the men fled.

BUT…they didn’t stop the mission. Upon arriving to Derbe and Lystra, they continued to preach the gospel. See, the men knew they needed to leave the city of Iconium (spoiler…just for the time being) but they did not need to leave behind the mission.

Where God moves His people, His power goes with them.


Rob challenged us to think through what could have come in verse 7. The story could have read something like Paul and Barnabas fled from the persecution at hand to go and rest, to recover, to take a breather (admit it, you probably would like that if you were them, right?).

(1) How often do we escape/ flee situations in order to just take a break?

(2) When have you actually moved on from one hard situation to another, but felt stronger instead of weaker?


Continue on in vv.8-13

**vv. 8-11 is a similar story to how the people treated Peter earlier in Acts, just with a different culture response.

“Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. “

Here we see a city thinking Paul and Barnabas were gods among them. So we see them wanting to worship them, wanting to make sacrifices before them..

Yet, Paul and Barnabas tried to set the people straight in the next few verses.

vv. 14-17

“But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

We are also men- of like nature with you

Sometimes it is SO important to be aware of our place in the Kingdom of God. Yes, we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us, but we are still man. Still able to see eye-level with those around us- whether fellow child of God or not.


Consider vv. 15

“that you should turn from these vain things”

V a i n : producing no result; useless. having no real value, empty,

Our culture is full of “how can I please myself” “how can I gain man’s approval” “how can I be happy right now” “how can I make my life look beautiful online”

Some Questions to think through on this:

(1) Is our culture wrapped up in vain things? Things that don’t hold any true value?

(2) How have you in your life over the past few weeks been chasing after things that won’t provide any lasting value, things that won’t leave you complete and satisfied?

(3) How can you be aware and distinguish between things that are neutral and the things that are taking control over your life?

Be aware of the things that you feel as though you cannot live without.

Be aware of the things that dictate your emotions at any given moment.

Be aware of the things that monopolize your thoughts.


“… to a living God”

Here we see Paul and Barnabas telling the crowd that they actually do have something else to turn to….something that is not vain! They are able to turn from the vanity that the world wraps itself up in and they can turn instead to a living God.

There and only there can we find true peace, true rest, true meaning, true comfort in life.

A point we made on Sunday–> the Bible is not simply better than Netflix. The Bible itself acts as a counter-agent to the lies, to the culture, to the identity we seek from the world.

The Bible is supposed to be active against the bitter-spirit that lies in one’s life before they become a follower of Jesus.

(1) How does the truth of the Bible act as a counter-agent to what is out there in the world today? How does the Spirit fight against the lies of the Enemy as we sit with God and His words?


continuing on vv. 19-20

“But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.”

Even as Paul was stoned, tormented by those still in opposition to the gospel…the disciples gathered around him. There was a true sense of community, or oneness here.

v. 21

“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, “

You’re saying Paul and Barnabas decided to GO BACK to the place where they had to previously flee from due to violence and fear of persecution?

HOW? tell me how!

v. 22

“strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. “

Sometimes we need to be strengthened in order to go back and face something the Lord intends for us to face. Sometimes we need to walk through a season of endurance, a time of building up, a series of trusting the Lord in order to be obedient where God has called us. Paul and Barnabas returned to Iconium stronger, more confident in their power from the Lord.

(1) How important is it that we take the steps to strengthen ourselves, specifically our souls?

(2) How much did Paul value being strengthened?

(3) What can the church do to help strengthen others, to provide encouragement more than just once a week?

(4) What were the disciples strengthening? (hint: it wasn’t their physical bodies)

Raise your hand if you need encouragement?

We all need people coming along side us, being consistent in their pursuit of knowing where our heart is. We need constant encouragement, constant words pointing us back to Christ. If Paul and Barnabas need it, so do we!


So..what is the goal of this strengthening, of this facing trials and tribulations?

To enter the Kingdom of God!

There is an internal struggle we all face to remain in the Kingdom of God daily. Letting Him rule and reign over all aspects of our lives. This is where Paul is correct that life is like running a race, always having to be active. We cannot always just wait on God to move us forward, we have to take the steps and then He will meet us along the way providing living water able to sustain us.

Go back and read vv. 22.

Kind of summarizes a lot of the Christian life does it not?


Sit with these thoughts. Let the questions flood your mind and lead to honest conversations with the Lord this week. Below are some questions that the group on Sunday said came to their mind:

(1) What is it that I love?

(2) What are things I should love?

(3) How can I aim to have all my relationships with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ be those that encourage each other, strengthening in nature?

(4) Am I letting my fears and imperfections hold me back?

(5) Am I truly placing others at a higher significance in my life than myself?


Go on and finish reading vv. 24-28

“Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples.”

Through it all, through the ups and downs, the successes and failures, the fleeing and the remaining– a door of faith was opened!

The disciples faithfulness coupled with the strength and power of the Lord allowed the men to fulfill the work set before them.


What work is set before you that you need to be faithful in?

What can we take from the missionary journey and apply right now in our lives?


Father, thank you for being present in our lives. Thank you for the presence of others along side us in ministry. Those to encourage us, those to push us forward, those to walk beside. We are incredibly thankful for your guidance and your ability to see when we need to take time to strengthen our souls and when we need to remain and push through. Lord, we pray that this week we are open to your guidance and that we are in your Word often. Let us not strive after things such as the wind, but let us strive to remain fruitful to your Kingdom. Amen

Isolation Eats – Whipped Coffee

Isolation Eats – Whipped Coffee

During this time of being sometimes stuck inside, most of us are having to learn how to operate out of our homes a little more than usual. This means that we’re spending more time in the kitchen, but not getting to share the fruits of our labor with our friends. For this web series that we’re calling Isolation Eats, I hope that we can spend a little time together in the kitchen, draw some inspiration for new dishes, and share some recipes. We’re starting with something simple for this episode and will get more substantial in the future. Let us know if there’s anything that you want to see in the comments below!

 

Isolation Eats – Episode 1: Whipped Coffee from FBC Social Media on Vimeo.
Continue reading →

A c t s 1 3: Must be Proclamation + Holy Spirit

A c t s 1 3: Must be Proclamation + Holy Spirit

This week we are seeking to dive into Acts 13 as we follow Barnabas and Saul further on their journey proclaiming the Gospel.

Sunday morning we took some time to look at some key phrases in the scripture as this is another way to go about studying scripture. Rob took us through a few specific phrases which we will talk about in a bit, but it’s helpful to continue the study yourself looking into other key words and things that stood out to you in the passage.

Go on right now and read Acts 13 in its entirety, and jot down to yourself some key phrases, words and ideas that the scripture is talking about.


Some phrases you may have written down during your time in the word:

  • while they were worshipping
  • after fasting and praying
  • sent out by the Holy Spirit
  • proclaimed the Word of God
  • hear the Word of God
  • filled with the Holy Spirit
  • enemy of righteousness
  • hands of the Lord upon you
  • astonished at the teaching of the Lord
  • sent a message of salvation
  • served the purpose of God
  • by him everyone who believes is freed
  • you scoffers
  • gathered to hear the word
  • spoke out boldly
  • shook off the dust from their feet
  • filled with joy and the Holy Spirit

This is not an exhaustive list as there is so much even in this one chapter to dive deeper into. While looking at the key phrases in Acts 13, there are two main things that a lot of the ideas bring together:

(1) proclamation of the word and (2) power of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the disciples’ ministry journey we get a glimpse into the lives of Barnabas and Saul. Here, we see how the two (proclamation and the Spirit) can and have to work together in order for the kingdom of the Lord to advance. You cannot have one without the other and the text in Acts 13 does a great job at pointing us to that fact as we dive in.


Read v. 1-3

“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”

Even in these few verses we can learn SO much about the character of these men and their reliance on the leading of the Holy Spirit in their own lives as well as in their ministry.

  1. How do we know that the men here are dependent on God?
  2. What can we learn from the leaders of the church movement being unified in their fasting and worshiping? Is it helpful to see leadership together leaning into the Spirit to take steps forward?
  3. What do you think this time looked like for these men?
  4. How does vv.3 remind us that we are not alone in ministry? How does it show the body of the church?

A key phrase came up in our discussion on Sunday about these verses: See, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul all were worshipping and fasting together– voluntarily!

Take some time here to meditate on worship and fasting. The posture. The meaning. The connection it brings between a Father and His children. The perspective change.


W o r s h i p : to prostrate oneself, (“to worship“) which means to bow down to God.

F a s t i n g : voluntary abstinence from food, a true dependence, showing a willing spirit to be filled by something greater than food.


Take a moment to go to the following references. Seek to understand how we must become like children, ones fully converted, offering ourselves as living sacrifice.

  • Romans 12:1-2
  • Matthew 18:3
  1. What does it look like to worship in both physical state and with ones life?
  2. Have you explored all that God has for you in your current lifestyle? Are there more things you could offer? More things to follow Him in? More things to fully change in your life?


Read vv. 4-12

“So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Another key phrase we looked at here: “They proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews” (v.5)


P r o c l a i m i n g: announce officially or publicly, declare, make known

Here we see that Barnabas and Saul proclaiming the gospel, doing so in a place where they were welcome to share the word of the Lord, in jewish synagogues. They were proclaiming, making known, the new completion of the law, the bringing forth of a new covenant, a new way of life following the Lord.

  1. What are you proclaiming with your life? What are you declaring with your life? What are you making known about your Savior by the way you live your life?
  2. So, where can you share the word now? In what areas, what spaces, in what friend groups do you have permission to proclaim the word?

While we must be active in our obedience to proclaim the gospel….

we must not forget the power of God and His Spirit!


It’s always Proclamation + Holy Spirit

When we rely too heavily on one over the other, we can find ourselves dealing with one of the following sin issues:

(1) When we are active to proclaim the word of God but forget to rely on the Spirit? Pride enters

(2) Reliance on the Spirit without active proclamation? Laziness enters


Take a moment to pray for your continued dependance on the power of the Lord and for a confidence in stepping out to proclaim the truth of the gospel .


We must be people who notice God’s power. We must be people who are not hard to amaze. We must be people who are continually in awe of the presence of the Lord. We must be people not described as scoffers.

Read vv. 13-25

Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:

“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

Here we see Paul walking through the story of the Old Testament in vv. 16-25. Take some time to walk through God’s faithfulness to his people and what the people of the Lord walked through up until the coming of the Israel’s Savior, Jesus. Go back and dig into the stories spoken on, taking time to sit with the character of the Lord we serve.


Go on and read vv. 26-41 now.

26 “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 

32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

“‘You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you.’

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm,

“‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed[c] from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

41 “‘Look, you scoffers,
    be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days,
    a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”

What are some key phrases here in vv. 32-41 that stand out?


We took some time on Sunday to look into two phrases in this section

(1) “freed from everything” in v.39 and (2) “you scoffers” in v. 41.


Freed from everything

In vv. 39 we are reminded that by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. This freedom is new, something that when Jesus came it changed things. Before Jesus, the only freedom offered was that in which they found through living according to the law of Moses. Now, there’s a deeper freedom, a newness of life to be lived.

(1) What are some things that you have been freed from?

(2) How is the freedom that Jesus brings his people different than the freedom by the law of Moses?

(3) Ask the Lord to reveal what in your life would look different if you lived in the truth that you have been freed by a new type of freedom, letting the chains of sin and of this world actually fall off.


Scoffer: kataphronētēs; one who mocks, makes fun of, proclaims something as stupid, despiser

(1) What have you found yourself scoffing at over the last few weeks?

(2) What have you allowed yourself to mock, proclaim as stupid, to despise?

Maybe you have been stuck in a hard to please attitude during this time in quarantine. You look around at all the inconveniences, all the sickness, at the lack of “fun activities”. You have been unamused with this time and have found yourself grumbling more than you have been praising.

OR

Maybe you have been able to seek the Lord in the small things, allowing even the smallest thing to produce a sense of awe. You look at the text from a friend, the sunshine, the time in constant prayer with your Father. You have been grounded once again in your relationship with God and have been reminded of the realness of the power of the Lord.

Either way…let us press on this week to stop the scoffing and seek the Lord instead.


Read vv. 42-52 to finish out the chapter

As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.45 But when the Jews[d] saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Some Questions to look at in these verses:

  1. What can we learn from Barnabas and Paul’s boldness in vv. 46?
  2. What actually makes us worthy of eternal life?
  3. How were the disciples able to be full of joy in the midst of persecution being stirred around them?

A prayer to pray over this scripture in your life:

Lord, oh how thankful we are of your power, of your spirit, of your fullness. You have sought your people, you have freed your people and you constantly love your people. Thank you for showing us that in you we have everything we need. Reveal areas in my life that I have allowed my pride to win, reveal times where I have allowed laziness to take hold. Remind me that I need you, each and every day. Continue to make me aware of the things in my life you are doing and those things you are doing in the life of those around me. Lord, your power is something I want to recognize more and more.  Let me not be so hard to amaze, let me, as a child would, see each day as beautiful and new. Amen.

Below are some videos of us diving into Acts 13 with one another. Hopefully these help to continue the conversations about what the Lord is teaching us each week in Acts!

MONDAY

MONDAY

“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” John 12:27-32 (NLT)

Dear Lord Jesus, as the events of “Easter Week” began to unfold, the exuberant “Hosannas” gave way to the great disturbance in your soul—no hesitation, but profound consternation. No surprises awaited you, just an overwhelming assignment—one that you helped plan before the world began (Eph. 1:3-14). Within days, you would take the judgment we deserve to give us the grace we can never earn. Your “bruised heel” (Gen. 3:15) would crush the head of the “ruler of this world” and cast him down in defeat (Jn. 12:30).

You gladly paid the price for the salvation of God’s immense covenant family—children of grace, redeemed from every nation, tribe, people, and language; daughters and sons of mercy, as numerous as the stars in the sky, the sand of the beaches, and the dust of the earth (Gen. 12-17). Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

It was for this purpose you came from eternity into time and space. For this very reason you emptied yourself of your glory by taking the form of a servant-man—the Lord’s Servant. To this end you became obedient—even to death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-11). Understandably so, Lord Jesus, your heart was overwhelmed on that Monday.

As the events of our week now unfold, grant us grace to slow our pace and quiet our hearts, that we might survey the wonders of your sacrifice and the riches of your love for us. May our boasting in your cross grow exponentially, demonstratively, and joyfully. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and grace-full name.

Acts 11: Be Where God is Moving

Acts 11: Be Where God is Moving

This week we find ourselves in Acts 11.

 

Take a second to be in prayer with the Lord.

Asking Him to guide your time in His word.

Asking Him to make His spirit known to you.

Asking Him to remove distractions, to remove anxieties, to remove temptations to misuse this time.

 

Now, go on and flip open your Bible and read Acts 11.


 

As we looked at the scripture on Sunday morning, Rob offered us a helpful way to help work through the truths and takeaways from any passage of scripture we are trying to study.

We focused on the following within this chapter of Acts:

(1) S e t t i n g

How can knowing where and when the scripture takes place help in understanding the context for us today?

(2) C h a r a c t e r s

Who is involved in the story and how do we fit into the story now? What is said about each person?

(3) P o i n t  o f   V i e w

From whom is this story written? Who is speaking? What can this help us understand? What can we infer they were thinking/feeling at the time of the scripture?

(4) T u r n i n g  P o i n t 

What seems to be a change in tone? Where is there a shift in action?

(5) T h e o l o g i c a l   T h e m e s

Ex: How does this fit into the theme of salvation? How does this fit into previous prophecies? What questions does this passage raise in your head?

(6) T e r m s   o f   i n t e r e s t

What are some phrases that stand out? What words repeat? Why do the actual words used matter?

 

Now, go on and try to work your way through these 5 questions. Using this as a kind of mapping exercise for the section of scripture we are in this week (yes, even if you joined us for our Sunday Morning bible study, go back and answer these for yourself)

***You might need to use what we have studied thus far in Acts as well as the passage in Acts 11. It’s so helpful to try to sort through some of these thoughts for yourself before simply scrolling to see the answers. 


 

Did you come up with some interesting things? Awesome!

 

Now here is an example of what this process looks like. We have been blessed with Rob’s work-through of the above exercise. Read through the following and see what you were able to get from the scripture and what Rob found from it. Take notes on parts that interest you and things you want to go back and look at later.

 

Setting: Jerusalem – from Joppa to Caesarea to Jerusalem

Characters: Peter, brethren at Jerusalem, church at Antioch, men of Cyrene and Cyprus, Barnabas and Saul

Point of View: Luke, omniscient 3rd person

Plot: 

(1) Peter’s report at Jerusalem

  • Peter tells the story of gentile conversion to Jerusalem brethren
  • Brethren are initially mad about Peter associating with gentiles
  • Peter recounts story about vision, preaching event to the household and their receiving of the HS
  • Peter says how he is convinced by their receiving the HS that God has included the gentiles in his plan
  • The brethren are convinced and glorify God

(2) The Church at Antioch

  • The church that was scattered in the persecution of Stephen resettled in Phoenician, Cyprus and Antioch
  • After they settled in those places that shared the gospel to Jews alone
  • The men in Antioch who were from Cyprus and Cyrene, began preaching Jesus
  • Jesus blessed their preaching and a large number who believed turned to the Lord
  • The Church heard about God’s activity and sent Barnabas to Antioch
  • Barnabas rejoiced and encouraged the men of Antioch to remain true to the Lord as he witnessed God’s grace
  • Barnabas is described as: a good man, full of the HS and of faith
  • Barnabas traveled to Tarsus to find Saul
  • Barnabas and Saul came to Antioch and spent a year teaching many in the Church
  • The disciples were first called Christians here in Antioch
  • Some prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem and one named Agabus prophesied about a famine 
  • In response to the famine the disciples who could sent money through Saul and Barnabas

Peripeteia “Turning-point moment”

  • Report in Jerusalem
    • Verses: 15-17 – the story of the Gentile Household Receiving the HS
  • The Church in Antioch
    • Verses: 20-21 – the story of those in Antioch receiving the Lord in large numbers

Theological Themes

  • Informing the church about ministry verses keeping it to ourselves
  • The church voicing its issues with one another only and not resolving conflict vs working through the issue looking for God/Jesus’ activity and word
  • Being lead by Jesus vs being beholden by traditions

Terms of Interest

  • Gospel sharing
    • “speak to words to you by which you will be saved…” (11:14)
    • “Speak the word” (11:19)
    • “Preaching the Lord Jesus” (11:20)
  • Gospel Response
    • “received the word of God” (11:1
    • “Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ” (11:17)
    • “a large number who believed turned to the Lord” (11:21)

Using both what you have come up with during your study of Acts 11 and with what Rob informed us with in the scripture, seek to answer the following questions:

vv. 1-3 "Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
  • Why was Peter back in Jerusalem? On what account do we find Peter coming back to the church?
  • What is the brethren’s attitudes initially to what Peter recounts? (you did what? with who?)

 

vv. 4-13 "But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea.12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter"
  • Why was Peter able to speak with confidence about his actions in Caesarea? Was he following his own direction or that of the Spirit?
  • Have you ever felt the Spirit leading you in a certain way and been too afraid to actually follow? (much like Peter needed to be told 3 times to do something)

 

vv. 14-18 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?”18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
  • What do vv. 14-18 reveal about Peter’s encounter with the Spirit that we didn’t see in Acts 10? (hint: look for the red letters)
  • How have you been able to hear the calling of the Lord thus far in your life? Have you been able to discern His voice? 
  • How have you taken the gift of the Holy Spirit for granted in the past?
  • Have you ever tried to stand in God’s way in your life?
  • What would it look like to ask yourself “Where is God moving and how can I be a part of that?”
  • How does your confidence in choices/ direction of your life increase when you allow your life to be directed by the Spirit and not your own thoughts/opinions?
  • How can we better have a curiosity when it comes to the Spirit moving in others’ lives instead of an attitude of judgement?

 

verses 19-30 "19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers[d] living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul."

 

  • What did Barnabas’s do that encouraged the church at Antioch? 
  • How can you encourage those doing the work of the Lord? (Ex: when on mission trips we are easing their load, we are there to be extensions of their current work for the kingdom)
  • How did Barnabas’s actions show that the church needs training and teaching, not just additional numbers of those saved?
  • What is different in being called a follower of God verses being called a “christian”? (hint: Christian literally means little Christ)
  • Why is it important to not just follow tradition, but to follow a Savior?

 


 

v. 23 “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose”

 

Remain faithful to the Lord friends. We are praying for you!

TUESDAY

TUESDAY

As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42

Dear Lord Jesus, everything about Holy Week reveals the depth of your compassion for sinful, broken people like me. The tears you wept coming into Jerusalem—even the anger you showed in driving the money changers out of the temple—every encounter, parable, and action underscores the truth and beauty of the Apostle Paul’s words,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8).

Paul was writing about me. I am the powerless, ungodly sinner for whom you died—a demonstration of God’s incomparable and irrepressible love for the ill-deserving. I wasn’t a God seeker; I was God’s enemy—a rebel, fool and idolater, when you reconciled me to him through your death on the cross (Rom. 5:10). May I never believe otherwise. My salvation is all of grace—from beginning to end.

I would still be blind to what, alone, brings me peace if you hadn’t opened my eyes to see my need of you and your death for me. The gospel would still remain hidden from my eyes unless you had given me sight to behold you as the Lamb of God who takes away my sin, and the sin of the world. I can’t condescendingly sneer at a single Pharisee, Sadducee, priest, teacher of the law, or anyone else who tried to trick or trap you during Holy Week. For I am just as worthy of judgment as they.

How I long for the Day when I will no longer even be tempted to look for peace, joy and fulfillment, anywhere else but in you, Lord Jesus. I increasingly yearn for the Day when I will see you as you are and will be made like you (1 John 3:1-3). This is my great hope, deep longing and grand assurance.

Until then, keep healing the eyes of my heart of all spiritual myopia, astigmatism, or anything else that keeps me from seeing the magnificence of your glory and the full measure of your grace. So very Amen I pray, in your tenacious and tender name.