Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

In Your Bible: Acts 15:36 to 16:13

Paul and Silas decided to leave Jerusalem and make a visit to believers in cities where Paul had proclaimed the word of the Lord. They found that God’s actions fulfilled his promises in Joel 2:20. New converts accepted joyfully Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The number of believers increased dramatically.

A New Assistant for Paul

In Lystra, Paul met Timothy – a Jew and a follower of Jesus. Paul treated him as a son and discipled this righteous young man. However, because his father was Greek, Timothy had not been circumcised – a covenant sign with God for the Jews. Paul circumcised Timothy to fulfill this covenant concerning all male Jews (see Genesis 17:7-14).

The Spirit Guides Paul

They passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, after being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in [the west coast province of] Asia [Minor]; and after they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them (Acts 16: 6,7 AMP).

Note: If this seems confusing, see Romans 8:9-17 where Paul writes about the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ [Jesus], and the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead (the Spirit of God).

Next, God used a vision of a man in Macedonia who begged Paul to come to Philippi, a leading city of the district of Macedonia. Paul knew he had the call to Macedonia. He did indeed.

During Paul’s exciting second missionary journey he planted many new churches. The number of believers increased dramatically.

Prayer: Father, thank you for guiding me by your Holy Spirit in personal decisions daily. Selah.

Question: Why does Timothy’s need for circumcision seem to conflict with what Paul argued for at the Council in Jerusalem?

Circumcision of the Heart

In Your Bible: Acts 15: 1-35

Paul and Barnabas traveled through Asia Minor spreading the Gospel of Jesus. As Gentiles became believers, then the question arose, “Must they be circumcised?” The Council at Jerusalem challenged Paul and Barnabas concerning this. Gentile believers require circumcision of the heart – a new heart for God.

Establishing Churches

In Iconium Paul and Barnabas taught on the grace of God and miracles happened. In Lystra when Paul preached the Good News, he recognized a crippled man had faith to be healed yes, God healed this manIn Derbe they preached the Good News and made many disciples. In Antioch they encountered teachers from Judea who taught Gentile believers must be circumcised. Paul and Barnabas vigorously argued with these teachers from Judea

The Council in Jerusalem

The church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to settle this conflict.
As Paul and Barnabas came before the Council, they told them everything the Lord had done through them by the Holy Spirit for the Gentiles in Asia Minor. The Council listened quietly and respectfully. Then the Pharisees on the Council disagreed and asserted . . . “Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses (Acts 15: 5b NLT).

But James affirmed the Paul and Barnabas with this advice: Don’t make it difficult for Gentiles who turn to God. They need not be circumcised, but must abide by the following:

  • Abstain from eating food sacrificed to idols
  • Abstain from consuming blood or meat from strangled animals
  • Abstain from sexual immorality

James continued, “For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations” (Acts 15:21 NLT). The Council agreed with James and sent a letter with these instructions to the Gentile churches in Asia Minor.

New believers require circumcision of the heart – a new heart for God.

Prayer: Father, thank you for circumcising my heart. What a JOY to have a heart for you.

Questions: Paul writes that Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called (1 Cor 7:19,20 NIV). How does this resonate with what Peter, Paul, and Barnabas argued with the Council in Jerusalem? How does it reinforce the commandments rather than tradition?

The Message of Christ

In Your Bible: Acts 13: 16-41

When the religious leaders at Antioch of Pisidia invited Paul to bring a word of encouragement, his message touched hearts open to receive Jesus. However, some had difficulty grasping the revelation that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. In challenging scenarios, Peter and Paul preached the message of Jesus with boldness.

Preaching by Paul

Even though Paul gives us valuable advice in his epistles. But one Bible commentator* says Paul’s extremely important message in Acts 13 may be his only full-length sermon on record! That’s amazing. Read on.

Key Messages – Peter and Paul in Acts

See the similarities Peter’s sermon in Jerusalem with the amazing fall of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:14-40) and Paul’s sermon many years later at the Synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:16-41).

  • The coming of Jesus is the consummation of history
  • Man did not recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah
  • The resurrection is proof of God’s undefeatable purpose and power
  • The resurrection fulfills prophecy
  • Christ restores freedom and fellowship between God and man
  • God’s gift of love [Jesus] for those who accept it, is a curse of condemnation for those who refuse him

In challenging scenarios, Peter and Paul preached the message of Jesus with boldness.

Prayer: Father help me speak your Word with boldness even in difficult scenarios – including times where rejection is likely.

Questions: When you see these comparisons, how does it encourage you in your acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah? How can you use this summary to build your testimony when you tell your message of faith in Jesus Christ?

* Acts of the Apostles, The Daily Study Bible Series, William Barclay, St. Andrews Press, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1955, page 111.

Encouraging Words

In Your Bible: Acts 13

Now we begin the amazing account of Paul’s three missionary journeys. The first took place around AD 47-49, with Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark. They preached, taught and served in modern day Cyprus and Turkey. God at work!

Exhortation or Encouragement

Paul and Barnabas were in the Synagogue on the Sabbath in Antioch of Pisidia. After the reading of the books concerning Moses and the prophets, those overseeing the service addressed Paul and Barnabas, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it” (Acts 13:15b NLT).

Then, Paul stood and gave a profound, detailed history – how God worked through 450 years of Israel’s generations of ancestors, through judges, David and other kings, and now through Jesus, Messiah.

Made Right with God

Paul appealed to those gathered in the Synagogue teaching that through Jesus, forgiveness from sins is available. A new and bold concept . . . “Everyone who believes in him [Jesus] is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do” (Acts 13:39 NLT).

This struck the hearts of all who heard, so much that they begged Paul and Barnabas for more teaching. They stayed on and urged all who heard them to continue to rely on the grace of God.

A Light to the Gentiles

The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the Word of the Lord (Acts 13:44 NLT). But the size of the crowd angered the Jews so much that they began to slander and dispute whatever Paul and Barnabas said.

Paul boldly condemned this rejection and went on to state from the Prophet Isaiah, “I have made you [Jesus] a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6 NLT).

The Gentiles would also receive God’s grace, forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ. These Gentiles were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. God at work!

Prayer: Father, thank you that you continue to send missionaries to spread the good news of Jesus around the world. Please guide and protect them.

Questions: When is the last time you had the opportunity to encourage a missionary? In what manner?

The Ship Logos Hope

I had the opportunity to visit the OM Ministries Ship, Logos Hope, yesterday. Their ministry uses a ship to get the Word of God and many other books to the nations. They also help people in villages and towns they visit with construction and service projects. I’ve wanted to board this ship for years but seldom been at a location where they docked.

What a joy and blessing to be onboard, see what they do and speak with their dedicated crew. A bit of time spent with Luke from North Carolina and Stephanie from Asia blessed me with the joy of Jesus.

Just as I volunteered my time in Mercy Ships, the crew is composed with volunteers dedicated to the Lord and serve Him with their talents. Truly we saw an international crew alive with the love of Jesus Christ. Onboard we wandered through their immense bookstore (mainly Christian help books, many children’s books, and of course lots of Bibles).

I encountered staff with the joy of Jesus exuding from their countenance. We recognized much of what they gave up to live onboard and at times perform mundane tasks to keep the ship and on board community thriving. . . but they did it with joy and excitement as they met people and helped them.

See this website http://www.omships.org for more information on this amazing ministry.

Live and Move by the Holy Spirit

We read in Acts where the Holy Spirit did miracles through Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas and others. They lived through the Holy Spirit. Pentecost was the watershed event pouring out the Holy Spirit, again opening up all mankind to receive God. Yes, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are still active today.

Filled with the Holy Spirit

In the gospels, the Twelve did this miracle and the 70 did that miracle. In Acts we read that Peter, John, Paul or Barnabas did miracles also through the Holy Spirit. These actions were done by Spirit-filled men (and some women too).

All of this was done as a normal part of ministering to man’s needs. A normal life for these believers, taught by Jesus and moved by the Spirit of God.

Spiritual Gifts in Action

The spiritual gifts are explained in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:1-11) as a guide to the right use of spiritual gifts and correct possible improper use. The amazing thing is that no one apparently needed to describe each gift or its use prior to this letter to the Corinthians!

Believers submitted to the Father and the Holy Spirit who the guided them. Look at some examples:

  • At Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell and hundreds spoke in tongues praising God (see Acts 2:1-4)
  • Peter and John looked “intently at a beggar,” on the way to the Temple. This shows discernment or discerning of spirits (see Acts 3:4)
  • Paul looked straight at a crippled man and saw this man had faith to be healed. Paul called to the man loudly saying “Stand up” and healing took place for this crippled man (see Acts 14:8-10)

Keep your eyes open to see the use of the gifts of the Spirit, as we read in the Acts of the apostles. Even though those key words aren’t necessarily mentioned, the spiritual gifts are in use through the Holy Spirit. God does amazing things. Yes, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are still active today.

Prayer: Father, you sent Jesus our Savior, so we may be close to you. Teach me, to discern what you want me to do —every moment of the day.

Questions: When did you first see the connection between living by the Holy Spirit and doing what ever task God has for you in your daily life? Quietly and prayerfully look at what Paul mentions in Romans 12:6-11 and again in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 for use by the Spirit filled believer. The Church also has a list of gifts for individual believers and ministerial positions, can you recall them (see 1 Corinthians 12:28)?

Listen To The Holy Spirit

The Church at Antioch was a vibrant one with them growing in the Lord. Paul’s impact on this Church took several years, but now they were ready to be a sending church—to guide and lead others to belief in Jesus Christ. They listened to the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit—The Advocate

In John 14, Jesus informed the 12 apostles that he would ask the Father to send a helper. Jesus said . . . “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative that is, the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26 NLT). The Holy Spirit will actually guide followers of Jesus.

The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost nearly overwhelmed those present. The book of Acts might rightly be called the “Acts of the Holy Spirit [through the apostles] to build the New Testament Church.” The astounding entrance of the Holy Spirit began God’s action with His Church.

Disciplines Ingrained

The Church at Antioch ministered to the Lord by the worshiping, fasting, praying, and waiting on God. These were strengths of the early Church. Ministering to the Lord is not a term used often. We think of these as how we—believers do things—but these actions minister to the Lord.

Then, as they waited for guidance, the “Holy Spirit spoke, Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do.” So they commissioned them. In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying, they laid hands on their heads and sent them off (13:2b,3 The Message).

Fasting, Praying, and Waiting

In my opinion, fasting and waiting are now lacking in importance on how to minister to the Lord. Fasting is often not even a part of how we submit to God to receive guidance on a regular basis (let alone in times of dire need).

The ‘action’ of waiting on God is to decline the urge to jump into ‘must do this or must do that’ which begs on our minds. Waiting to hear God’s voice is exactly what our hearts need . . . then we believers will gain rest for our souls and guidance.

Richard Foster * describes spiritual disciplines as the door of liberation for the Christian. He goes on to state that joy is the keynote of each one as well as freedom from fear and self-interest.

The Church at Antioch received guidance for what God wanted them to do when they listened to the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Father, help me apply these spiritual disciplines to enable me to hear you better. I want to hear you all the time.

Questions: How often have you skipped over these essential words “waited on God” for answers or “fasted” for answers to prayer? Can you trust the Holy Spirit to give specific or personal guidance?

* Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth, Richard J. Foster, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1988, p 1,2.