Posts Tagged ‘Paul’s first missionary journey’

Acts 14:24-28 Testimony Time

A fond farewell to new brothers and sisters

Paul and Barnabas make their way home. We have read that they already passed back through Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. They retraced their steps as far as Perga before setting sail back home from Attalia.

I’m going to confess right now that today’s reading doesn’t leave me with a lot of excitement. I already told you before that the “they went here, then there” verses are harder for me to dig into. But when they get home it does ignite in me a bit of curiosity so that is where I want to go today.

We know that the elders of the churches in Antioch had been present and praying when the Holy Spirit commanded Paul and Barnabas to set out on their mission trip. Now they are back with those same people. I have a feeling that EVERYONE from those churches had gathered to hear what Paul and Barnabas had to say. Read more »

Acts 14:19-23 Left For Dead

Even this doesn’t stop God’s plans!

When we left our intrepid missionaries they were stopping the people from worshiping them as gods. The people were so in awe of the miracle God had performed through them that they thought them gods themselves; Zeus and Hermes. NOT SO said Paul. We rejoin the story where some of the dissenting Jews from previous stops show up to stir up the crowd against Paul and Barnabas.

I’m curious to know if the Jews showed up at in the same crowd we were just reading about or if they came in a little later and poisoned all the crowds in general. I find it hard to understand how they could turn the crowd so quickly from adoration to aggression if it was the same day. I’m also wondering what it is that they said to the crowds that got them so worked up. To go from trying to install someone as a god to dragging them through the streets and engaging in killing them seems like a HUGE swing of the pendulum. How did they get there? Read more »

Acts 14:8-18 I’m A Man Too

They were looking at the wrong source

Not me personally, I’m a woman but that is beside today’s point. I was bemoaning the fact that we didn’t have detailed accounts lately of what was going on during Paul’s journey. Moan no more! Today we get to watch as a group tries to elevate them to god status.

Paul and Barnabas have just narrowly escaped being stoned AGAIN but they were not silenced. They just moved on to somewhere else to share God’s word. They are in Lystra today.

While Paul is teaching he notices a man in the crowd who is intently listening to every word being spoken. His expression leaves no doubt in the disciple’s mind that this man is drinking in and accepting the word of faith being shared. Paul keeps watching his throughout his presentation of the gospel and his spirit is burning with compassion for the man.

This man is about middle aged and sitting to the side of the crowd on a blanket. He is a beggar and was placed there in the morning by his friends. Why was he a beggar? Why is he there? He has been crippled since birth. This is the only life he has known. Each day he is brought to the square to beg for alms.

I don’t know what it is in the man’s eyes/face that catches Paul’s attention. Did he see him nod in agreement at the right times? Did he see compassion in his eyes when Paul spoke of how Jesus was mistreated? Did he see identification with Jesus’ suffering? Did he see longing and hope when speaking of forgiveness for sins? Did he see pleading in his eyes when talking of the miracles Jesus did for others?

Whatever it was that Paul saw he equated it to the man “had faith to be made well” (verse 9). I would bet that Paul saw this through Spiritual eyes. The Spirit spoke to his spirit and told him to reach out to this man.

“Stand upright on your feet”, says Paul in a loud voice. (verse 10a).

This man’s reactions demonstrated that he did indeed have faith to be made well. He didn’t look at his feet and think “Is he crazy?” He didn’t laugh Paul off. He didn’t even test out his feet by slowly rising up. Instead he “sprang up and began walking” (verse 10b). He didn’t even need to learn how to walk. That too was given to him in this miracle from God.

EVERYONE in attendance knew that a miracle had occurred. It was absolutely obvious. The problem arose when the people confused the miracle’s origins. Instead of recognizing God as the worker through Paul’s hands they saw Paul as the originator of the miracle.

When the people first started crying out that Paul and Barnabas were gods, Paul and Barnabas didn’t understand them. They were speaking in their native tongue; Lycaonian. This was not a language our two missionaries were fluent in. But they got the meaning of the people’s words when the priests for the false gods showed up with sacrifices.

“WHAT!!! We are NOT gods! We are mere men like you. We only came to share the good news of the true living God with you. He is the one who made this man well. He is the one who made Heaven and Earth. Don’t worship us, worship HIM! The gods you are serving are nothing compared to Him.”

Paul and Barnabas shared how God had cared for these people even before they knew Him. “He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (verse 17). Now it is time to recognize the true source of all He has provided.

Paul talked a blue streak but he “scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifices to them” (verse 18). I credit the amazing miracle and the hunger of the people for something real with their zeal. They had been serving empty gods for so long with no miracles of any consequence to show for that service. One miracle at the hands of the living God had them standing at attention and salivating to show their appreciation. They just needed pointed in the right direction with that reverence and gratitude. Paul made CERTAIN to point them in the right direction.

We will see next time how that adulation turned to animosity in a moment time.

Father God, there is NO god like You! ALL those pretend gods are inventions of man to try and explain Your gifts to us. You are the ONLY one who has spoken directly to us from the Heavens. You are the only one with power to impact our lives. YOU hung the stars. YOU created the oceans and gave them their boundaries. You even loosed their boundaries at one time then restored them again. Thank You for even considering us in Your great plan. Thank You for bring us the gospel; the good news of Your love. Thank You too for the stories about how You spread that news to all people. Thank You that You are still reaching out to each person today.

Acts 14:1-7 A City Divided

Too bad many are pulling up the bricks instead of laying them down

On to the next leg of Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey. They shook the dust of Antioch off their feet and headed for Iconium. This stop lasts for quite a while.

I’m going to make a confession to you. I miss Jesus’ parables. I find it hard to say much beyond what is written in the scriptures in our study. I miss being able to dive in and hunt for deeper understanding. I have a few questions that today’s reading sparks but they are ones that can’t be answered until I get to meet these people “face to face.” More bench time questions.

I want to share my questions and observations anyway so here goes. Read more »

Acts 13:13-52 Fickle Fellows

We are in Galatia!

Today’s reading is very long! We continue on with Paul, Barnabas and John Mark as they move on in their first missionary journey. John mark leaves from Pamphylia and heads back to Jerusalem before we get to the second Antioch in Pisidia. This is not the same Antioch that sent them out but another location all together. This Antioch is actually in Galatia. We aren’t told why John Mark leaves but it will become an issue for Paul when considering who to take on future journeys.

Paul and Barnabas make a point of always starting their visits to each new city by presenting the gospel to the Jews first. So, as usual, they find themselves in the synagogue come the Sabbath. I find it quite interesting that the rulers of the synagogue asked them to speak. I would think that their fame would precede them and the religious leaders would want to avoid giving them a platform to teach from. Did this group know Paul from his early years, before becoming a Christian? What were they expecting them to say? Maybe it was simply standard practice to allow and encourage visiting ministers to share with the people. Read more »