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The Scriptorium

Increase: Word, Persecution, Joy

We must always submit to the Word. Acts 13.49-52

On a Roll: Acts 13 (6)

Pray Psalm 90.1, 2.
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Sing Psalm 90.1, 2.
(Landas: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place)
Lord, You have been our dwelling place from generations gone.
Before the mountains came to be, before the earth was born,
before the worlds, and long before men on the earth first trod,
from everlasting long ago, O God, You are our God!

Read Acts 13.1-52; meditate on verses 49-52.

Preparation
1. What increased because of the witness of Paul and Barnabas?

2. How did the disciples respond to increased opposition?

Meditation
Paul and Barnabas moved on, following the leading of the Spirit, but the Spirit remained to fill the believers with joy (vv. 50, 52). The ongoing work of Christ is the Spirit’s work. He leads. He empowers for witness. He convicts and converts. He sanctifies the faithful. He builds the Church. And He does all this all at once and in every place!

The Word was spreading rapidly (v. 49) because the people who “got it” really did. They were excited, freed from the burden of their sins, secure in the hope of eternal life, and flourishing in the grace of the Lord. People who know such experiences can’t help but talk about them to others, and this is how the Word of the Lord spreads, as we’ve seen (Acts 8).

But as the Word increases, so do opposition and persecution. Big deal! That didn’t stop Paul and Barnabas, and it shouldn’t stop us, either. The joy of salvation is a real and permanent joy, not one dictated by agreeable circumstances. We should expect opposition and persecution, and know how to deal with these by resting in the strength and promises of the Lord, Who has overcome the world (Jn. 16.33), and by continuing in the ongoing work of Christ.

The ongoing work of Christ continues because it is the Spirit’s work, and not merely ours. We see how the Spirit uses faithful people, armed with the Gospel and filled with holy joy, to lead others to the Lord and His Kingdom. Pray that we will be faithful, joyful, courageous, and consistent followers of Christ in everything we do.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
These religious folks were the complete antithesis of what God’s people are called to do. Maybe they misread the instruction book?

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133.1).

They caught the good and pleasant part all right but missed the dwelling together in unity. They instead stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raising up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and causing division among those who claimed belief in God (Acts 13.50). Oops.

Is there any Scripture that you are misreading? Any of the instruction book of the Bible that you have misconstrued?

When we read the Word, and choose to ignore the things we don’t like, we are doing what these religious leaders did.

We are called to “stir up the gift of God which is in you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1.6, 7).

We are called to be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13.52)

We are called to cast out sin from our lives (Ez. 14.6; I Jn. 1.9, 10); not our fellow believers.

There’s a lot of activity going on in these verses (Acts 13.49-52). The spreading of the Word and the opposition to it. Spreading the Good News, and the antithesis of it. Rejoicing in the Spirit.

The same battle rages on today. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand…” (Eph.6.12,13). We must not misread or misunderstand our calling.

So “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Josh. 24.15).

For reflection

1. Why is it so important that we believe the Scriptures and do what they teach?

2. The Gospel sometimes can be divisive. But we must not be. What’s the difference?

3. What does it mean to rest in the strength and promises of the Lord in the face of persecution or opposition?

The Greek has, “But the disciples,” so that we may understand that although the Jews persecuted the faith, the disciples on the contrary were endowed with spiritual joy. The Venerable Bede (672-735), Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles 13.52

Pray Psalm 90.12-17.
Commit your work today to the Lord, for the progress of His Word and joy throughout your Personal Mission Field, beginning in your home. Ask Him to fill you with gladness as you bear witness to Him in word and deed.

Sing Psalm 90.12-17.
(Landas: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place)
So teach us all our days to note that wisdom may be ours.
Return, O Lord, have pity on those servants who are Yours.
Each morning let Your love appear that we for joy may sing.
And make us glad for every day You us affliction bring.

Now let Your work to us appear; our children show Your might.
And let Your favor rest on us; show mercy in Your sight.
The work that You have given us, confirm, and to us show,
That we Your chosen path may walk and in Your precepts go.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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