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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

Teaching, Tribulation, Tenacity

It's all part of life in the Kingdom. Acts 14.13-23

The Gentiles Question Resolved (2)

Pray Psalm 61.1, 2.
Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Sing Psalm 61.1, 2.
(Quebec: Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts)
Lord, hear my cry, heed my complaint! Hear, for my distant heart is faint.
When from the end of earth I sigh, set me upon that Rock on high.

Read Acts 14.1-23; meditate on verses 13-23.

Preparation
1. How did Paul try to connect the people of Lystra to the one true God?

2. What happened when the enemies of the Gospel arrived?

Meditation
Paul and Barnabas insisted they were not gods, tearing their clothes to show they were mere men and as a sign of dismay (v. 14). Then they declared, in effect, “You’re not hearing us. We’re not trying to endorse or stretch your religion, and certainly not to fit in with it; we’re here to destroy your useless faith!” Paul and Barnabas could be so forthright because they were bringing GoodNews of something – Someone – better than the religion of the Lystrans.

But the more Paul and Barnabas insisted on the truth, the more determined the people became to enfold them in their pagan rituals. We have the feeling this situation is about to get out of control (v. 18).

We should not overlook the witness of God in creation and culture when we are sharing the Gospel. God is revealing Himself there (vv. 15-17; Ps. 19.1-4), and that revelation, seen for what it is, can be powerful (Ps. 8.1, 2; Rom. 1.19, 20). But of itself it’s not enough to bring conviction and conversion. For that we need the preaching of the Word and the Gospel.

Tribulation began (v. 22) once the enemies of the Gospel arrived (vv. 19, 20). Stoned and looking for all the world like he was dead, Paul lay silent and motionless before those who believed, who must have been absolutely stunned. Then, getting up, he headed back into the city! Hit me again, man! (v. 21) Paul knew his work was not finished yet. He was no glutton for punishment, he just wanted to finish what he started, and that meant making sure the believers in Lystra were secure in the faith and properly ordered for ongoing growth.

Then Paul and Barnabas headed eastward to Derbe (v. 20), still preaching and making disciples. After many more believed, Paul and Barnabas determined that was enough for this first trip. Now they retraced their steps, back from Derbe to Lystra to Iconium, and to Antioch of Pisidia (v. 22), “strengthening the souls of the disciples” at each stop (v. 23). They were checking to make sure the fruit remained. They also appointed elders in every church – mostly “house” churches, I suspect.

No one ever said the work of evangelizing the lost, starting churches, and making disciples was easy. It’s hard work, and requires firm commitment, not only from church leaders but from all members of the believing community.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The praises of men, just like beauty, are passing and fleeting; but the person who fears the Lord is to be praised (Prov. 31.30).

Look at what happened to Paul and Barnabas. One minute the people could hardly be restrained from offering sacrifices to them (Acts 14.18) and the next, Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city and left for dead (Acts 14.19).

We should not seek the praise of men. We should only seek to please the Lord. As Jesus warned us: “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” “Beware of men.” “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10.16, 17, 28).

“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe” (Prov. 29.25).
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12.32).

In order to be pleasing in the sight of the Lord, we must have faith, because without it, we will find it
impossible to please Him. (Heb. 11.6) But through the blood of the everlasting covenant made perfect by Jesus, God will make us complete in every good work to do His will, working in us what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever (Heb. 13.20, 21).

He will make us well pleasing in His sight; but we must want it and work towards it. We must willingly participate in the change. We must present our bodies as a living sacrifice, setting aside worldly desires and the praises of people, to be instead: holy, and acceptable to God. It is our reasonable service (Rom. 12.1).

People are fickle. God is not. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13.8).

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
and from the world now let me turn;
living for Thee, and Thee alone,
bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
only what’s done for Christ will last.
(C.T. Studd, 1860-1931)

For reflection

1. Where does the courage come from that Paul showed in these verses? How can you have more of that courage?

2. What does it mean to strengthen the soul? What are you doing to strengthen your soul?

3. Why are tribulations necessary for entering the Kingdom of God? What kinds of tribulations?

The grace of God, and nothing less, effectually establishes the souls of the disciples. It is true, we must count upon much tribulation, but it is encouragement that we shall not be lost and perish in it. The Person to whose power and grace the converts and the newly-established churches are commended, clearly was the Lord Jesus, “on whom they had believed.” Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 14.19-28

Pray Psalm 61.3-8.
Ask the Lord to shelter and strengthen you for this day’s work in your Personal Mission Field. Call on Him for mercy and truth, and praise Him in advance for how He will use you today.

Sing Psalm 61.3-8.
(Quebec: Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts)
You are a Refuge, Lord, for me, towering o’er my enemy.
Let me find shelter ‘neath Your wings, dwell in Your tent eternally.

Lord, You have heard what I have vowed; You have on me Your grace bestowed.
You will prolong my years, my life, keep me alive ‘mid trial and strife.

I will with You e’ermore abide; let lovingkindness take my side.
Let truth preserve me all my days; I will forever sing Your praise.

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.
Books by T. M. Moore

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