Introduction: A key idea in the book of Acts is that believers should be witnesses for the Lord, everywhere they go. Today, we hope to continue our discussion of the events in the Galatian cities and the return to Antioch.
Read Acts 14:14-20 3. Events in Galatian Cities (continued). Paul was used to heal a man who was crippled from birth in this section of the book of Acts.
The surrounding people sought to worship Paul and Barnabas as idol gods. They rejected such false worship and tried to help the people focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some Jews came and turned the crowd from worshipping Paul and Barnabas to stoning Paul almost to death. Paul recovered and left with Barnabas the next day.
Applications - - Disciples of Christ, instead of fans for ourselves. Notice in vss. 14-18 of the book of Acts that Paul and Barnabas stayed focused on building disciples of Christ, instead of fans for themselves.
It is not strange for people to admire those who do a great job. If you keep working at it, you can develop an admirable level of competency and reputation in the area or Christian ministry. We should use this for God’s glory, instead of our own.
On one hand, people should respect the office that God has placed a person in. But on the other hand, whenever people put you on the level of a god, things are severely out of order.
Let’s work on developing disciples of Christ, instead of fans for ourselves. Disciples of Christ are known for following God’s word, which teaches not only following leadership but a faithfulness that goes beyond disappointment with people.
- The living God, instead of worthless things. Notice in vs. 15 of this section of the book of Acts the call for people to turn from worthless things to the living God.
In the grand scheme of things, money, reputation, material goods, and the like are really worthless. When we stand before God at judgment, the issues of accepting Jesus as savior and loving God and others, as we loved ourselves will be greater issues.
On one hand, to obey the living God is to be a wise steward of all that He has placed in our trust, including money and relationship. But on the other hand, to obey the living God means that His will is more authoritative for our lives than our own agendas.
Let’s make sure we have turned and are urging others to turn from worthless things to the living God. Our efforts to help others live by this application will be helped by not only our words but perhaps more importantly by our example.
- Informed zeal, and wherewithal to get up and go forward. Notice in vss. 19-20 the lessons to be lived by. First, it is dangerous to have a group of people who have zeal without knowledge.
Just as those in this section of the book of Acts turned from worshipping to wanting to kill Paul, people who shout without studying God’s word are still likely to do anything. Sustained Christian ministry to the body of Christ and through the body of Christ calls for and informed zeal.
Second, there are times when we must get up and go forward, no matter how wrongly we have been treated. It was wrong for the Jews to start so much trouble, wrong for the people to follow after wicked propaganda, and painfully wrong to stone Paul and leave him for dead (notice no mention of stoning Barnabas).
However, just as Paul got his “apostolic self” up and moved on with his life and ministry, God calls us to get up from painful, disappointing, and wicked situations and move on with our lives and ministries. One lost battle doesn’t mean that the war is over.
At the core of being able to live by this application is the matter of having strong faith in God, which is often developed through prayerful study and obedience to God’s word with the support of other believers.
Let’s work on having informed zeal and the wherewithal to get up and go forward with our lives and ministries.
Read Acts 14:21-28 4. Events on the Return to Antioch. In this section of the book of Acts Paul and Barnabas travel to a number of cities to preach the gospel.
They even went back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch among those who had severely mistreated them. They reported to the disciples in Antioch and stayed there for a while.
Applications – - From being tested to strengthening others. Notice in vs. 22 of the book of Acts that Paul and Barnabas were to strengthen others.
It would have been difficult for them to strengthen others, if they had no strength of their own. And it would have been difficult for them to have strength, if they had never been in some situations that tested the strength of their faith.
In other words, their testing led to testimonies that helped strengthen others. Let’s work on trusting God to use our testing for testimonies and the strengthening of others. If we pray our way through our troubles, we can help others do the same.
But when we curse and complain our way through, it hurts our ability to help others pray their way through. Again the power of informed and strong faith comes into play.
- Leadership development. We see in vs. 23 of the book of Acts the importance of developing leaders. No one or two people can do all that God is calling the church to do. And every human leader has a date with death.
Therefore, the need for developing trained discipled leaders who can keep the ministry going and growing is of foundational importance.
The appointing of leaders is important, because some of those who are popular enough to be elected are not trained or disciple enough to carry out the duties.
Mature leaders are often better equipped than a popular vote to discern the character and competency issues needed for leadership. Praying and fasting for discernment can be a helpful practice. It is not a requirement, but it can be helpful.
Those who are appointed to leadership should be mindful of what a sacred trust it is to take on the duties of leadership. However, at the end of the day, we (i.e., Apostles, elders, and followers) should all have our ultimate trust in God.
Let’s work on developing trained discipled leaders for the maintenance and growth of the church. Those who read these notes should be sensitive to not only the concepts being discussed but sensitive to the possibility that God is calling you to be a leader as well. The greatest leaders often come from the rank and file workers.
- Faithfulness and relationship. Notice in vss. 24-28 of this section of the book of Acts that Paul and Barnabas set a marvelous example of being faithful in good times and bad, at home and away as well as a marvelous example of staying accountable to and in relationship with the local church.
We should strive to avoid being guilty of being only fair whether Christians (i.e., only faithful when there are ideal conditions). God is calling us to serve Him everywhere we go and in spite of whatever we encounter.
Furthermore, no matter our title or testimony, we are all parts of one body. Therefore, accountability and relationship should be common concepts and ideas.
In other words, we never outgrow being accountable to one another and being in good and regular standing with our church family.
When we think our title or testimony puts us beyond accountability and beyond having to be in relationship with the church family, it is here that the devil is able to do so much damage. We are better together than we are a part.
Let’s work on being consistently faithful and in relationship with our church family.
Conclusion: Let’s work on being witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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