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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 13:1-12 part 2


Last time we saw the early church in Antioch fasting and praying and ministering to the Lord. The Holy Spirit called for Paul and Barnabas to be separated from the others to take the message to the gentiles.

Let’s talk for a moment about a Spirit-filled church. Many times we hear folks refer to themselves as a Spirit-filled church. The proof they offer can be the handling of snakes without getting bitten, the speaking of tongues, the manifestation of various healings and miracles… and so forth. But, what is a Spirit-filled church, really?

John MacArthur says that a Spirit-filled church is one in which its members walk in obedience to the will of God. God reveals His will through scripture so a Spirit-filled church will be deeply committed and obedient to the word of God. An examination of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 shows how being filled with God’s Spirit and allowing the word of God to richly dwell in one’s life produce same outcome.

I’m afraid at this point that I must detour for a moment in order to hit upon an important topic. Many people today talk about “God showed me” or “God spoke to me and told me” and other such things. These things that “God spoke or showed” usually result in you being asked to send money to the one who received the revelation. Don’t do it! God reveals Himself in His word. Every claim of revelation or inspiration must be thoroughly examined against what is taught in scripture.

There is also a rising tide of false teaching existing today. Much Emergent, Prosperity, Word of Faith, Roman Catholic, New Age, and other teachings are competing against the truth. And since the word of God is not richly dwelling in the lives of people, many are falling headlong into deception.

Our scripture today shows an excellent example of this. Verse 6 says that Paul and Barnabas had been across and throughout the entire island of Cyprus preaching and teaching Jesus. Luke makes a point, however, of mentioning this next bit of information as opposed to anything else that occurred on Cyprus. A local Roman official, Sergius Paulus, summoned Paul and Barnabas so that he could hear their message.

Luke notes that Sergius Paulus was a man of intelligence.  His job as a local leader would have required him to learn of the teachings of traveling evangelists. He doubtlessly kept himself informed of all the news about the happenings in his area.  The scripture seems to insist, however, that this man was interested on a deeper level that simple curiosity about Paul and Barnabas. Regardless of his reason, he seeks to hear from God’s men.

Now note how the proconsul is flanked by a messenger of Satan. A Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. I remember in school when studying math that sometimes a problem would have variable noted as A and another noted as Bar A (A with a bar above it). There was a huge difference between the value of the A and the Bar A. As a matter of fact, there was no relation at all between A and Bar A.

There was also no relation at all between Jesus (the real and only Son of God) and Bar-Jesus (a false prophet of Jewish descent). This Bar-Jesus was attached to the proconsul for some reason. Scripture says that Bar-Jesus (also known as Elymas which was a Greek word for magician) opposed Paul and Barnabas. He tried to stop them from giving the word of God concerning Jesus Christ to the proconsul.

We are told in Ephesians 6 that ” our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Telling someone about Jesus will be met with resistance by the enemy forces because hearing the gospel message is the method God uses to call His elect unto Himself. ” Faith comes from hearing the word of God” we are told in Romans 10.

So Paul and Barnabas are opposed outwardly by Bar-Jesus but spiritually, they are opposed by Satan and/or his emissaries. This is very important to understand. I will end today’s lesson with this truth and pick up next time with it as a reminder. Giving someone the word of God about  salvation through Jesus is not an academic exercise where someone simply weighs the information intellectually and makes a decision. Heaven and hell are in a struggle that God allows to take place when someone is confronted with the gospel. We will look more deeply into this in the part 3 of this text.

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Posted by on September 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 13:1-12 part 1


The 13th chapter marks a change from being focused upon Peter and what was occurring in Jerusalem to being focused upon Paul and his taking of the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, and Manaen are mentioned as being prophets and teachers in Antioch.

Of notable importance, followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch. It was a derisive term used by those who were not sympathetic to the calling of the people who followed Jesus but the Christians of Antioch wore the name proudly as it identified them with their Savior.

Now, when the scripture says of the men previously mentioned that they were prophets and teachers, it means exactly that. The terms prophet and teacher get thrown around rather loosely today. The men mentioned in verse 1 of chapter 13 fit the Biblical definitions. Prophets received and proclaimed direction from God and teachers rightly schooled others in God’s revelation of scripture.

Another thing notable about the 13th chapter is that Saul becomes known by his Roman name Paul. He would lead the charge of taking God’s word to the Gentiles. Now, let’s take the remainder of today’s lesson to discuss why and how Paul became the leader to take God’s word to the Gentiles. This is of great importance. 

Modern day workings differ from Biblical workings many times. Today, we see people being chosen to lead organizations and ministries for all sorts of reasons. MBA education, leadership-oriented and/or experience, popularity as a former athlete or entertainer, ability to generate a following, ability to separate people from their money… all serve as reasons for people to be selected to head some types of ‘ministries’ in modern times. What do we see in the book of Acts?

Verse 2 says, ” As they ministered to the Lord and fasted…” which implies that these men diligently sought God and ministered to Him through worship and correct handling of God’s truth. They had a correct understanding of who God is. They apparently were not devising techniques and methods in order to sell books to those who did not want to spend time reading God’s word but wanted a Reader’s Digest version instead. These men were diligently serving God.

Verse 2 continues by saying that the Holy Spirit told them to separate Barnabus and Saul/Paul for a special work to which He was calling them. Notice the response of those who were not selected. They fasted, prayed, and laid hands on the chosen ones and sent them on their way. The implication is that the ones not chosen for this specific duty served those who were and supported them as they began their journey.

Notice there were no difficulties with the selection of God’s chosen. The others did not have a tantrum for not being selected. The church did not split. People did not withhold their offering money in protest. Everyone did their part according to their calling. Why must things be so hard today? I think the answer lies in the activities of these early church people. These people were devoutly seeking to serve God. There was no room for them to worry about their image, prestige, notoriety, reputation in the world or any of that type of nonsense.

When people focus upon God and do His work, God is honored. There is not room on a throne except for one. Either God is on the throne of a person’s life or they are on it themselves. God chose Barnabus and Paul for a special purpose and they obeyed. We will contiue this study next time. 

I thank the John MacArthur Commentary on the Book of Acts for notes and insights for this study.   
 
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Posted by on September 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 12:1-25 part 2


We pick up with verse 11 after Peter is led out of prison by an angel. Peter gathers his thoughts and runs to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark. This is where a group of Christ’s followers are praying for Peter. Peter knocks on the door and calls to a young girl who answers. No one inside the house believes it is Peter. After persisting in knocking on the outer door, Peter is finally let in and the people are astonished.

The group had been faithfully praying for Peter yet are surprised to see him alive. I can imagine how they felt. Too often we pray yet are surprised when God answers. May God forgive our weakness of faith.

Peter tells them the story of how the angel released him from prison. I’m sure the church was greatly uplifted to hear this account and word quickly spread among the faithful.

Now back in the prison area and inside the local political structure, the news was not so well-received. Verse 18 and following tells of the reception of Herod to this news. The guards were executed for their ‘failure’ to keep their prisoner secure.

Herod’s plan to garner increased favor among the non-Christian Jews had been derailed and he was furious. I would bet he searched for Peter harder than he had ever searched for anything yet Peter was gone. Herod then does the only thing a spoiled brat can do when defeated… he runs away to Caesarea. News didn’t travel as quickly then as today. Maybe he could outrun the news for a while or even get his mind occupied by badgering other people for a change.

Now on to more of Herod’s vain self-absorption. He held the power strings that controlled the food supply to Tyre and Sidon. He was miffed at them for some reason not given to us. A feast was held in honor of Roman Emporer Claudius according to historical writings of Jewish historian Josephus. It was possibly at this feast that the events of verses 21 – 23 took place.

The people of Tyre and Sidon and other locals who were at the event where Herod gives an oration, applauded him wildly. This was perhaps due to the splendid apparel he was wearing and the assumed power he wielded and could also have been at least partially due to their desire to flatter him in order to gain something from him later.

The people cried out, “The voice of a god and not of a man” which was complete foolishness. Herod took the glory upon himself according to Josephus’ account and the Bible doesn’t say exactly but the implication is that he loved the flattery and was puffed up with himself. Verse 23 says that an angel of the Lord struck Herod because he did not give glory to God. Herod later dies of being consumed (internally) by worms.    

Verse 24 tells us that the word of God grew and multiplied which is exactly what it does according to God’s will. There is no stopping it. Herod was shown not to be all that he believed himself to be and that the people who flattered him hoped he was. However, God always proves to be exactly who He has told us He is. Praise His name.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 9:22-43 part 4


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In this final installment of this section of scripture, the focus shifts from Saul/Paul back to Peter. Beginning in verse 32, we see Peter traveling. Traveling was not glamorous back then. It was laborious, dangerous, and time-consuming. Surely there were underlings that could have traveled for Peter. However, we will see that Peter was not above person-to-person ministry.

Depending upon where you live, you may or may not have experienced the mega church concept. 3000 members, 40 pastors, 40-acre campus, 3-ring megaplex… all of these are common place in many American cities these days. Call up and ask to meet with the senior pastor and you will be told that he doesn’t do that. One of the junior pastors will meet directly with the public. The senior pastor focuses on strategy, leadership, growing the church’s brand, building the spiritual empire and so forth.

Peter was the senior pastor. He was there in the beginning when Jesus directly gave him responsibility for the church. No man could be more senior than Peter was in his time. Yet, we see Peter directly involved with individuals.

Verse 34 shows Peter reaching out to Aeneas and healing him in the name of Jesus. Peter was careful never to take credit or even appear to take credit for the miraculous. He made it clear where the power came from. The local people saw the result of the healing of the man they had known since their youth. As a result of God’s power on display, many (turned) came to faith in the Lord. The Greek word used for ‘turned’ in turned to the Lord means a conversion of life direction instead of a simplistic turn of curiosity.

Peter’s celebrity could not have produced this conversion. God was working powerfully in His Church.

Next we see Peter was summoned to go to Joppa where a believing woman had died.   Now Peter may have been tired. It may have been the end of a long day. He could have sent an associate or asked for a delay in traveling yet more distance to minster but he did not. He went where he was asked to go. Peter prayed for the woman in private once arriving where the woman lay and God raised her from the dead. The Bible says this event was known all over Joppa and that many believed in the Lord (again, not the casual belief but the life-changing kind).

I am not saying that division of labor or delegation of duties inside the church is wrong. I see the message of this part of scripture as saying that a minister is never larger than his personal ministry. That includes all of us. God has the power and we are to have the availability. None of us are too cool to get our hands dirty, so to speak, with direct ministry. Peter knew this. Paul knew this. They more than any others could have felt they were too senior to get involved but the example they set was one of personal involvement with others when the opportunity presented itself.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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