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 Parable of the Ten Virgins

Jesus said, “Likewise, you should always be prepared, because you do not know when the Son of Man will come” (Eyewitness Matthew 25:13).

Eyewitness: p. 212
In your Bible: Matthew 25:1-13

At Jewish weddings in biblical times, the bridegroom drew the attention. Jesus pointed to his appearance as the striking moment and reason for joy in this parable. For the western mindset, this parable can be difficult to understand. However, if we view it from the Jewish mindset in the village setting, it becomes clearer. Bible scholars help put this into perspective for us too.**

PERSPECTIVE

1. The wait for the bridegroom goes on for days and nights – many get tired waiting.
2. Prior to the bridegroom appearing (usually during the night), no one is allowed in the street without a lighted lamp.
3. When the bridegroom approaches, someone goes ahead of him shouting: “Behold! The bridegroom is coming!”
4. Once the bridegroom enters the wedding tent is closed, no one else may enter.

When we understand the customs in this parable, we can more readily grasp its meaning. The wedding celebration represents the end times, when Jesus returns for his bride.

C O N C E P T

* The wedding feast – celebration of Jesus’ return is a certainty to come.
* The announcement has already been made by prophets.
* Many believe in Jesus the Christ and many do not!
* Once Jesus returns, the door of acceptance will be closed for Gentiles.
* Your oil of salvation is all you need…..be prepared.

Application: No one but God knows when the bridegroom will return. Believers must be ready and prepared. No one can borrow or purchase a relationship with God. A believer must have it personally.

Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding us to be wise, be prepared, and be ready for the joy of Jesus’ return. Glory.

** Matthew Henry Commentary in One Volume, Matthew Henry, Regency Reference Library, Zonderdan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960, pp. 1332-1332.
and
The Daily Bible Study, The Gospel of Matthew Vol 2 Revised Edition, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, pp. 318-321.

Kingdom of Heaven Parables

“If you have ears, pay attention to what I am saying” (Eyewitness Matthew 13:9).

Eyewitness: pp. 86-88
In Your Bible: Matthew 13:24-52

The Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew Chapter 13 is a treasure trove of parables. There are at least 7 after the Parable of the Sower/Seed/Soil. In this chapter, Jesus mentions the Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God 9 times. Yes, Jesus got the crowd’s attention. What is the Kingdom like? Listen to Jesus’ words and receive what he said.

Jesus taught as much as the crowds could understand. He wanted his followers to know what the Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God entailed. It’s not merely a location, a body of believers, or a view of what will happen. It is Kingdom living for the Lord God Almighty. It is right living, right purpose, right attitude, and right perspective……on what God wants.

More Parables in Matthew 13

1. Jesus tells us that we are not to judge who believes in God…..His angels will separate out those who truly believe. Two parables – the Tares vv 24-30 and the Fishing Net vv 47-50.

* C O N C E P T * Spread the Word, cast the seed, some will accept it and some will reject it. We must keep sowing the gospel message. Do not be discouraged in this assignment when some refuse to accept the good news. God will sort out who really believes at the end time.

2. Salvation through God’s gift of Jesus Christ is a priceless commodity, bringing great joy and peace. Two parables – the Hidden treasure v 44 and the Costly pearl vv 45,46.

* C O N C E P T * A believer must commit everything he has to the Lord and even risk all ………….salvation is that valuable.

3. Salvation through Jesus initiates a transformation process greater than the believer can even begin to understand. Two parables – the Mustard seed vv 31,32 and Leaven v 33.

* C O N C E P T * The church triumphant, starts small but will become very big. That same concept of transformation and growth applies to our own faith.

Now, consider picking a parable from Matthew 13 to read out loud – slowly. Hearing the message in this manner will give the added impact Jesus intended and reveal the way He wants us to hear it.

At the end of this chapter, Jesus asked his disciples and those close to him, “Are you starting to get a handle on this” (The Message Matthew 13:51)? They actually responded “Yes” to his question. So should we!

Application:: Parables are earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. These insights and concepts are mine alone. Some parables are difficult to grasp and others straight forward. But Jesus’ words remain clear: Let us have “ears to hear” and take it fully to heart.

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending Jesus Christ with such a powerful teaching on Your Kingdom. Help us grasp all He taught.