A Unique Way to Share Jesus

In Your Bible: Acts 17: 16-34

Paul was whisked away from Berea to Athens. There he saw idols everywhere in this great university city. However, the Athenians didn’t have a clue about the Most-High God. Paul told them of God’s purpose through Jesus.

Paul Reasoned with the Council

Paul’s spirit was deeply troubled when he saw Athens full of idols. That gave him a unique way to share Jesus with the Jews in the Synagogue, the God-fearing Gentiles, with those in the market-place, and now with the high council.

The high council of the city [the Areopagus in Greek] – a select group of about 30 members * was intrigued at what they heard from Paul. “Come tell us about this new teaching,” they said. “You are saying some rather strange things, and we must know what it’s all about” (Acts 17:19b,20 NLT).

He told them they were wise to honor an unknown god, but there was much more they were missing. This was Paul’s perfect opening to reason at length about what God did for mankind through Jesus. He commended them for being religious and showed them a better way.

God’s Purpose

Paul proclaimed that God, the Most-High God, made the world and everything in it – including man. God’s purpose was for nations to seek and find him – for he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. (Acts 17: 27b, 28a NLT).

When Paul explained about the resurrection of the dead [God raising Jesus from the dead], some laughed in contempt but others said, “We want to hear more about this later” (Acts 17:32 NLT). And some eagerly believed. Paul told them of God’s purpose through Jesus.

Prayer: Father, continue to give me unique ways to use circumstances to show the joy of knowing Jesus.

Questions: How does Paul’s mentioning of nations seeking after God and finding him, relate to individuals needing to seek after God for themselves? Has God given you unique or surprising ways to share Jesus?

* The Daily Bible Series, Acts of the Apostles, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1955, pp. 141, 142.

Opposition to the Gospel

In Your Bible: Acts 17: 1-15

Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica and Berea (Macedonia) where they shared in Synagogues for several weeks. As they preached about Jesus, but this stirred up anger from those who didn’t understand or believe. However, to those who did (and now do) receive the message, it is salvation and life. Opposition to the gospel continues today.

Thessalonica

The Roman road from the Adriatic Sea to the Middle East was called the Egnatian Way. The main street of Thessalonica was part of that road! If Christianity were firmly founded there, it could spread quickly in the Roman Empire.

Paul and Silas traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia (100 miles of walking) and came to Thessalonica. In the Synagogue Paul preached from the Scriptures. Paul told them bluntly, there were no other options, this Jesus is the Messiah. Many God-fearing Greeks, men and women from the aristocracy, joined them.

But some Jews became furious over the conversions and sought to capture Paul and Silas for insurrection! The said, “These men who have upset the world have come here also” (Acts 17:6b NASB). Wow, what an authentication of effective evangelism!

Berea

But the opposition to Paul and Silas was a real danger. In response to this, the brethren in Thessalonica immediately sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the Synagogue of the Jews to preach Jesus.

Now those who heard Paul and Silas, received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to validate what was preached. Again, many believed with a number of prominent Greeks, as happened in Thessalonica.

 

When the Jews of Thessalonica heard that the word of God had been proclaimed in Berea, they came there to stir up the crowds against the message Paul and Silas preached. The Berean believers immediately escorted Paul to Athens but Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. Opposition to the gospel continues today.

Prayer: Father, thank you for believers who listen to your Spirit and watch over fellow believers and respond to real needs. Selah.

Questions: How do you see opposition displayed in other cities Paul or other disciples preached? Compare opposition to the gospel message in Thessalonica and Berea to opposition to Christianity today.

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.