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?

Jesus in Nazareth

“Get up,” the angel said [to Joseph in a dream]. “Herod will kill search for the child [Jesus] to kill him. Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother, and stay there until I tell you to return.” While it was still night, Joseph Jot up, took the child and his mother and left for Egypt. This fulfilled Hosea’s prophecy: I called my son out of Egypt (Matthew 2:13,14 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: Matthew 2 and Luke 2 (Eyewitness pp. 29,30)
In your Bible: Matthew 2 and Luke 2

 

After the wondrous occasion of Jesus’ birth, God led this family to Egypt for safety. A few months before Jesus’ birth, a son was born to Zachariah and Elizabeth. He became Jesus’ famous cousin called John the Baptist.

Jesus in Nazareth

When King Herod died, Joseph took Mary back to a place called Nazareth in the hills of Israel. That fulfilled what the prophets had written. He will be called a Nazarene Matthew 3:23b Eyewitness).

Little is known about Jesus when he was young. This simple Scritpure sums it up! The child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was upon him (Luke 2:40 Eyewitness).

Jesus Did Grow Up Differently

  • He had greater understanding of the human heart from the start – whereas other children are weak and have little understanding early on
  • He was strong in the Spirit of God
  • He was filled with wisdom – whereas most children concentrate on play
  • Everything he did was wise and wisely said (beyond his years)
  • He was obedient to his parents

Mary didn’t fully understand Jesus and all of his sayings. But she kept them in her heart and later the Sprit would show her.

Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding us Jesus was different, wise, aware, obedient, strong in the spirit, and wonderfully compassionate. Amazing You, You are.

Questions: What comes to your mind when you think of Jesus as he grew up? Would you ever believe he argued with his siblings?

 

The Riches of God’s Grace

[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17 Amplified Bible.

Ephesians 1:15-23 Amplified Bible
Ephesians 1:15-23 NIV
Ephesians 1:15-23 In Your Bible

Paul’s letters to specific early churches overflow with gems for believers today. Paul reveals he has never stopped praying and thanking God for the believers at Ephesus. He assures them God has many things planned for them.

Paul’s Desire for Believers

His prayer is for the Ephesian believers (and us today) to realize the greatness and power of God who will help them:

  • Gain spiritual wisdom
  • Have hearts flooded with light
  • Begin to grow in Christ
  • Ultimately know God in a deeper more powerful way

His encouragement is emphasized in this verse: I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given his people (Ephesians 1:18b New Living Translation).

Presence and Power

Believers must grasp the incredible power they have in Christ Jesus. For Paul, the resurrection is the supreme proof of the power of God. *

Now Jesus is seated in the heavenly realms far above any ruler, power, or authority. God did this for the benefit of the church – his body, you and me. Now, Christ, fills everything and every place with his power and his presence. We need to get a handle on that for our growth.

Prayer: Father, thank you for opening the eyes of my heart. Now, I see more clearly your greatness and what you want me to do.

Questions: What provides the capability or power in us to do things that God wants us to do? Is this also clearer when we look intently on Jesus’ own words in the Gospels?

* The Daily Bible Study Series, Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Second Edition, September, 1958, p. 107