Archive for April, 2013

A Pounding, A Prison, A Prayer and A Praise

April 30, 2013

In the post The Disciples and the Damsel of Divination, we see the power of God on display in Paul’s life as he commands the spirit of divination to come out of the girl. While it demonstrated the power of God, it caused a problem for Paul. The people were mad and created issues from Paul and Silas. Let’s go to the Word, Acts 16, to see what happened.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

Because Paul and Silas were proclaiming the gospel and had caused this spirit to come out of this woman, they were engaged in A Pounding, A Prison, A Prayer and A Praise. Paul and Silas were pounded by receiving a beating with rods because the magistrates responded to the people rather than to God or what was right. To add to their hardships for the gospel, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison. Those two circumstances sure does not mirror or evidence what many who proclaim the gospel today – wealth.

I hope that we see from all the disciples thus far that we will experience hardships or suffering when the gospel is proclaimed. I also hope that we see the results too. Over the next two days, I hope to encourage myself as well as you. I hear God saying to me Prayer and Praise. Before God could work or strengthen anyone else, Paul and Silas had to be strengthened. Their strength came once they had prayed to God- expressed their reliance and dependence on God – and praised God – singing hymns or spiritual songs to God.

Paul and Silas lived out what Psalms 119:62 states. It says “At midnight I rise to give you thanks, for your righteous laws.” How many of us arise at midnight to pray and to praise God. Tomorrow, we will see the results, but today is about how to respond to hardships or sufferings. Yesterday, I was having a pity party for myself about several matters in my life. I witnessed an adult’s sheer horror over some financial matters. Instantly, God shared with me that I did not have anything to complain or worry about. He needed me to encourage the heart of that person and to do something about her financial state. He then led me to a meeting where “just so happens” another adult who had reached out to the person was there. We both talked about taking action on behalf of the adult. The message was clear as I began to praise God to the adult who was afraid. In fact, the message was solidified as I read this morning. This is exactly what God was saying to me. When I praised Him to that adult in need, it seemed that all my concerns and fears fled. Now, I see that I too was an adult in need and God has met that need with Himself.

We all should be engaged in A Pounding, A Prison, A Prayer and A Praise. In some respects, we all experience a beating or pounding. If we don’t respond correctly, we are imprisoned in our minds; thus in our spirits until we pray to God and praise God. Just as there was a shaking and a revelation of God’s presence that we will explore tomorrow, God shook off the chains that bound my heart, mind and spirit. Hallelujah.

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The Disciples and the Damsel of Divination

April 29, 2013

Once again, we peer into Acts to see how the Spirit of God enables the people of God to serve as witnesses of the gospel of Jesus Christ. By now at this point in church history, we should understand that God, through the Holy Spirit, is establishing the ministry of His disciples. As I discussed with a student last week, we determine or assess people by what they consistently do much more than what they say. When one’s actions are congruent with what he/she says, we know that testimony is credible.

Jesus told the disciples “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In our text for today, Acts 16, we see the power of the Spirit evidenced in the life of The Disciples and the Damsel of Divination. 

13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatiranamed Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Paul’s casting out the spirit of the damsel is reminiscent of Jesus casting out demons. Like Jesus, the spirit calls out to people proclaiming who he and Silas were and what they were to do – telling you the way to be saved. WOW! God even uses demons to testify about who He is and what He offers man. In this case, the evil spirit is influencing the damsel to testify or witness about the disciples. Similarly, the Holy Spirit enables Paul and Silas to testify about Jesus and the way to salvation. We see the power Jesus promised the disciples as Paul commands the spirit to come out of her.

We also see the disciples experience hardship because of the gospel just as Jesus did when He proclaimed the truth of God. Like Jesus, Paul and Silas, we can expect opposition when we proclaim the gospel, but we can also expect that same power to be available for us as we witness for Christ. We will see the same  power of the Spirit evidenced in our lives as we saw in the life of The Disciples and the Damsel of Divination.

Trust and believe.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus who Guides Us

April 26, 2013

In the post Being Taught and Lead by the SpiritI submitted that in order to live the life God designed for us, we must live according to the Spirit. John 16 tells us, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

Jesus told the disciples that the Spirit would guide us into all truth. We heard that in John 16, but we see it applied here in Acts 16.

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

In the first few verses of Acts 16, Paul had chosen a disciple named Timothy from Lystra to accompany him on his work to preach to the Gentiles. We see in the text above the Holy Spirit take on the role Jesus described as guide in their pursuits to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul and his companions wanted to preach the gospel in province of Asia, but “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia” Then when they tried to enter Bithynia “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” The text does not say how that occurred only that they were not allowed to – directed or guided if you will.

The Holy Spirit is equated with Spirit of Jesus in verse 7 and with God in verse 10. The association of the Holy Spirit with the Spirit of Jesus and God are the foundations for the doctrine of the Trinity which states that God is three persons in one: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is why writer says they concluded that God had called them to preach the gospel to them. If the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Jesus was not seen as God, that conclusion of God calling them would not have been made.

Where are you in being guided by the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Jesus? Do you follow the Spirit? Do you hear the Spirit as you seek to preach the gospel or simply live the life of Christ as you live your life day by day?

 

God’s Seal of Approval: The Holy Spirit!

April 23, 2013

Throughout time, there have been debates of what is real and authentic versus that which is counterfeit, thus inauthentic. We see items people purchase. There are certificates provided with autographs authenticating that whatever item a signature is written that the signature is real. When rare coins are sold, they are also accompanied with paper as documenting proof that the coin is what is declared to be. There are purses that women purchase which have marks or seals of approval on them denoting their authenticity. Dictionary.com helps frame the seal of approval matter. It is defined as an endorsement of something or someone, as  in Our candidate doesn’t have the governor’s seal of approval, or The new management gave the old refund policy their seal of approval. This idiom was used, and perhaps invented, as an advertising gimmick of the Good Housekeeping Magazine, which gave its so-called “seal of approval” to products it endorsed; the products’ packaging in turn bore a small emblem attesting to this endorsement.

Long before Good Housekeeping Magazine, we learn of God’s Seal of Approval: The Holy Spirit! In Acts 15, we see the authenticity of believers in Christ challenged. Here are the first two verses:

Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses,you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.

The issue of physical circumcision was introduced as an authenticating measure of salvation. As the text reveals, it brought a sharp dispute among those who preached circumcision and those, Paul and Barnabas, who were preaching God’s Seal of Approval: The Holy Spirit!  We also learn principles about settling disputes over doctrinal issues from the believers in this text. When an issue arose, they developed an opinion but verified their position with other authorities of that day. In that day, there were the other apostles and elders who were resources of the truth. The principle is that we review the truth and seek counsel.

In terms of authenticating salvation in man, it should be noted that one criteria was used. It was God’s Seal of Approval: The Holy Spirit! We see this surface over and over again in the Word of God as well as now. The Reformation Study Bible presents that an official seal indicated authority or ownership and guaranteed protection (Esth. 8:8Dan. 6:17Matt. 27:66Rev. 7:3). God has sealed us, not with a physical seal of wax, but with the Holy Spirit in our hearts (Eph. 1:134:30). This inward work takes place in a person once, at the time of first becoming a Christian. The Greek word means a deposit or down payment that is part of the total and that guarantees the whole payment will be made. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of the complete salvation yet to be realized (5:5; Rom. 8:23Eph. 1:14). We already have heavenly life within us, before we reach heaven (1 Cor. 3:16Col. 1:27).

We have the benefit of reviewing other verses, but Paul and Barnabas did the same as us. They consulted what was known about Christ by seeking out the other apostles. Listen to what Peter shared in Acts 15 about God’s Seal of Approval: The Holy Spirit!

After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

We are saved by grace through faith. The indwelling Holy Spirit is proof of our belief but more importantly our salvation. Where are you? Does the Holy Spirit dwell in you? Has God authenticated your faith by depositing the Holy Spirit in you? If you don’t know, ask God. He knows everyone’s heart as we are told in Acts 1:24.

Having Hardships to Enter the Kingdom of God

April 21, 2013

Once more, I submit that the Book of Acts has been called the Acts of the Apostles or Acts of the Holy Spirit. For me, I prefer the latter because we see over and over how the Holy Spirit acted to lead and empower the apostles to preach the gospel and build the church of Christ. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told the disciples that they would receive power and be witnesses for Him in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

In addition to being Savior and Lord, Jesus is also a true prophet. All that He said is coming/has come true. We see the disciples performing various acts that demonstrate power.  Now in Acts 14, we know that the disciples’ persecution led to fulfill the Words of Jesus in Acts 1:8. They started witnessing that Jesus is the Messiah i.e. Lord and Savior in Jerusalem; now, they are on their way to the ends of the earth.

We see the combination of power and witness here in Acts 14. Just as Peter had earlier done, Paul calls out to a lame man “Stand up on your feet!” The Word says, “At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.” Likewise with Peter, there was opposition for Paul from the Jews in Antioch. We all can get excited about the miraculous, but can we be equally as excited about the mundane that will bring about God’s purpose. Paul, who had earlier caused believers great suffering, suffered for the cause of Christ. Let’s see.

Acts 14

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

21 They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

If the stalwarts of the faith, Peter and Paul, experienced Having Hardships to Enter the Kingdom of God, why do we think we cannot experience hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact in the text, Paul tells the believers as such. In verse 22, Paul says, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

What is said in other places in the bible about

John 16:33 – Jesus again is heard telling the disciples “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 15:18-21 – 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

Acts 9:16 – Jesus tells Ananias about Saul/Paul “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

1 Thessalonians 3:3 – so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.

2 Timothy 3:12 – In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

There are many other verses in the bible that affirm that we must experience hardships in our Christian journey. Other than Jesus, there is no other greater figure in the New Testament than Paul. If Paul and Jesus said we must experience Having Hardships to Enter the Kingdom of GodI must expect it, but rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to help me through those experiences, so I can witness for Christ as others see me walk through by the power of the Spirit and as I tell others about my hardships.

Guys, you don’t know how much this is really for me. Over the past couple of days, I have had to lament a few decisions that I have made as well as a few looming circumstances. This is God’s affirmation to me that He will see me through and that He expects me to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit and witness for Him as a consequence. If we can just keep a godly perspective or view on life we will experience joy and reflect the glory of God to those around us. Hallelujah. Jesus is not only my help but my hope as well.

The Holy Spirit Enables One to Speak Effectively and Boldly for the Lord

April 19, 2013

The Book of Acts has been said it was the Acts of the Apostles or Acts of the Holy Spirit. For me, I prefer the latter because we see over and over how the Holy Spirit acted to lead and empower the apostles to preach the gospel and build the church of Christ.

In today’s passage, Acts 14:1-7, we see the same dynamic once again. In this passage, we see The Holy Spirit Enables One to Speak Effectively and Boldly for the Lord.

At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, where they continued to preach the gospel.

The same Spirit of God who equipped Paul and Barnabas dwells in you if you have believed and embraced the gospel. The gospel is clearly conveyed by Peter in Acts 2:22-38. We see the Holy Spirit throughout the book of Acts enabling the people of God to do His work.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has work for you to do today for His kingdom, but the work can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Surrender control of your life today; invite the Holy Spirit to take control; follow His lead today.

Are You Filled with the Holy Spirit to bring Salvation to the Ends of the Earth?

April 18, 2013

In the post The Holy Spirit Leads Us to Fulfill the Word, we saw how Saul/Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit to confirm what Jesus had told him about being a witness for Him first to the Jews then to the Gentiles. Today, we see another example about Saul/Paul, but it also holds out hope for us to answer the question Are You Filled with the Holy Spirit to bring Salvation to the Ends of the Earth?

Acts 13 concludes with another affirmation of Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. In doing so, it confirms our role in God building His Kingdom. We, like Paul, are called to be witnesses for Him in ministry of reconciliation. In a few verses earlier, Paul and Barnabas convey that the Jewish leadership and some people thrusted aside the gospel and in doing so judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. Because their rejection of Christ, we are believers and are charged with being Filled with the Holy Spirit to bring Salvation to the Ends of the Earth.

Acts 13

47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

In that text, we see the response of people to Jesus Christ. Some will rejoice and believe in Him while others will work against God, not you, as people preach salvation through Jesus Christ. We must know that opposition is destined to come. Our focus must be on those whom are appointed to eternal life – for those who are appointed will believe. Since we don’t know who those people are, our sole job is to believe and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We cannot proclaim Christ in our own strength. We must see our charge as it was said to Zerubbabel: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” If we are to carry on the work of God of carrying the gospel to the Gentiles we must answer Are You Filled with the Holy Spirit to bring Salvation to the Ends of the Earth?

 

The Holy Spirit Leads Us to Fulfill the Word

April 17, 2013

In Romans 1:16, Paul affirms what Jesus said in Acts 1:8. Romans 1:16 says “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Paul can affirm that because that is what The Holy Spirit Leads Us to Fulfill the Word.

We see this in Acts 9 where Jesus calls and saves Paul. He went to the synagogue which is the worship house for Jews, but he was in Damascus which was not a Jewish territory. It is in the modern-day territory of Syria. All along, God has had a plan to call all people to Himself not just the Jews. In the Old Testament, we see all sorts of people who are “converts” to Judaism. Likewise in the New Testament, we will see Gentiles come to know Christ. Saul/Paul being God’s chosen man to bring the good news or the gospel to the Gentiles had to call out to the Jews before he would be sent to the Gentiles.

In Acts 13:13-31, Paul gives the people in the synagogue a historical lesson about how Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the Messiah. Now captured in the text below, we see how God accomplishes His plan to share Christ with the Jews, then with the Gentiles.

32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:

“‘You are my son;
today I have become your father.’

34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,

“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’

35 So it is also stated elsewhere:

“‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’

36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

41 “‘Look, you scoffers,
wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you.’”

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

God keeps His promises. He is all about calling men to Himself. If we are Full of the Spirit like Paul was, The Holy Spirit Leads Us to Fulfill the Word.

Look for where God is today and join Him.

The Holy Spirit, the Word and Blind Faith

April 16, 2013

In the post The Holy Spirit Communicates Missionary Commissioning, we see Barnabas and Paul commissioned by the Holy Spirit and agreed upon by those in the Antioch church. After being commissioned to sent off by the body of believers, Acts 13 picks us saying “sent on their way by the Holy Spirit.” It is important to note that it was the Spirit and not just people. As Jesus stated in Acts 1:8, it would be the Spirit who would give them power to be witnesses. Without the Spirit, their ministry would not be ministry.

“4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.

They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.”

Paphos as we are told in a city on the island of Cyprus. It is most known for having a temple to the goddess Venus – Aphrodite – the godess of  love, sex, fertility and a myriad of other things. With such self-indulgent desires obviously present and lauded, we should not think it strange for opposition to the gospel to surface. That opposition surfaced in the person of Bar-Jesus.

Bar-Jesus (Elymas) means son of Jesus. Isn’t that ironic that a sorcerer would take on the name of son of Jesus; yet, he was an imposter. He had not connection with Jesus. The proconsul or leader/governor of the island, whom Elymas served, wanted to hear the Word of God. Elymas opposed Barnabas and Paul and tried to turn the proconsul against the faith. To show his disapproval of this false relationship as well as his meddling in the affairs of the gospel, Saul/Paul pronounces judgement on Elymas the sorcerer.

The Word says, “Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery…You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” Who knows why Paul, who given power by the Holy Spirit, choose to blind the man. Some have suggested that Paul reflected back on his own experience when confronted with the gospel on the Damascus road went blind. It is presumed that maybe that condition would help the sorcerer, but, we are not told that he ever believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Despite that, the proconsul believed because of Blind Faith.

We all should look around our lives to see what Jesus has done, so our faith can either be stronger or initiated and activated. Where are you? Does your faith need to be strengthened or initiated? The Holy Spirit will activate your faith as He did with the proconsul if you want to hear the Word. The Holy Spirit, the Word and Blind Faith came to fruition for the proconsul.

The Holy Spirit Communicates Missionary Commissioning

April 15, 2013

Up to this time in Acts, we have seen the Holy Spirit empower the men of God to face fears, to heal the lame, to raise the dead, to cause deceivers and the proud to drop dead. All these efforts were provided by the Holy Spirit to authenticate the gospel.

In Acts 13, we see the next phase of God’s plan being executed. In Acts 9, God declared that “he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” We are now seeing the beginning of that work in Acts 13.

“1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”

Amongst theologians, there is a great deal of debate around many facets of this text; however, there is one aspect that is not debatable. The Holy Spirit said. God spoke and the people believed and acted on what the Holy Spirit said. The Holy Spirit said set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them.

From Acts 9, we know that God had called Saul to carry His name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. They sent them off. Off connotes to place outside of their immediate proximity. We will look at where they went tomorrow; however, it is important to note that they went.

When God calls us, we must be willing to go or willing to support those who have been called. In our text today, there was a church at Antioch. We will not get into the technical debate about their involvement. We do see that the church approved of their going and prayed for them and sent them off.

Wherever you are, your church should be involved with supporting missions especially if The Holy Spirit Communicates Missionary Commissioning to one or more in your body who has been called and is willing to go. Find out who are the missionaries your church is sending to proclaim the gospel.