07/06

July 6

Acts 13:23-52

Paul’s first missionary journey after his commission is found in chapters 13 and 14. In chapter 13, he preaches in the synagogue in that city and holds revival at Antioch in Pisidia. After Paul ministers, the Gentiles ask if he would come back and speak to them. The next Sabbath, almost the entire city came to the synagogue to hear Paul preach.

Certain Jews became furious that Gentiles were in their synagogue. Judaism has always been something that set the Jewish people apart from the world. They took pride in their consecration to God and considered the Gentiles to be wicked.

Christians today need to be watchful or they can develop the same mindset of a religious person, having a mindset that Christians are superior or better than people in the world. The difference between a Christian and an unbeliever is often just the fact that we have known salvation and they are still lost, wandering and searching for something to satisfy. Since we know that Jesus is the missing piece, our mindset should be sharing Him with those who haven’t known Him yet. Our mindset should NOT be condemning of them as if we are their judge. JESUS CAME TO SAVE THEM, so THAT is the SAME INTENTION that should be in our heart. My spirit gets severely grieved when I see Christians condemning the world to hell when they haven’t had the same revelation that we have.

The Jews began to oppose Paul and Barnabas. Anything they taught, the religious Jews would be contrary with. They blasphemed the Christ and the teaching that would uncover those blind eyes. Paul and Barnabas, aware of their contradiction and criticism, became bold and confronted these opposing Jews.

If you think church is a fairytale where there is never conflict, you are mistaken. If you think there is never opposition between those who are works-oriented and those who are grace-oriented, you are wrong. Some want condemnation to be preached from our pulpits with fear, guilt, and shame as motivation for right behavior. They say the preaching should be “hard” on sin. Others, like ourselves, teach that holiness is found through faith, trusting the love and grace of God to lead us to become more like Him. Instead of fear there is faith, instead of guilt there is forgiveness, and instead of shame there is acceptance. Do you see the difference? One is condemning, and one is empowering. One has a message of judgement, and one has message of rescue. One is based on works and performance, and one is based on surrender and obedience.

Paul and Barnabas rose up in boldness against this opposition. When Jesus spoke of being a bold witness, He knew the religious Jews would work against this new covenant of grace. In Galatians Paul wrote about the conflict between self-sufficient religion that opposes the freedom in a God-sufficient grace that is received through a faith that is surrendered and obedient.

These two apostles said to these Jews, “It is necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first.” Why? God had a covenant with the Jews, so the fulfillment of their prophecies in a Jewish Messiah was spoken to them first. Now God had a new covenant with the Jews, a covenant that included people from every nation. Christianity is a Jewish faith, and Abraham is the father of us all.

Certain Jews in Antioch of Pisidia rejected the message of Jesus as their Messiah. They considered Jesus dead. They did not see an overthrow of Rome, a strong and worldly ruler over them. Paul and Barnabas also said, “you judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life.” If anyone rejects Jesus, they are not qualified to receive this new life in God. However, at any time, if they change their mind and surrender, God will receive their repentance. Remember Jesus referred to the religious Pharisees as blind leading the blind. They don’t see the truth, but when they do, and when they repent, He will receive them. What a merciful God!

Satan doesn’t want the truth to be taught. He is said to “blind minds” in 2 Corinthians 4:4. When praying for the salvation of a loved one, ask and then declare revelation knowledge for them. Bind the enemy from blinding them in their understanding. Who would choose hell over heaven if they saw it clearly? I believe most would turn if they could only see.

Paul and Barnabas quote Isaiah 42:6-7 to be a light to the Gentiles, bringing salvation to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 42:6-7 says, “As a light to the Gentiles, 7 To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.” This has been God’s plan for hundreds of years, to scatter the Jews and allow time to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. There are also many prophecies on the regathering of the Jews. I believe there is prophetic promise of revival among the Jews in the last days, and yes, it is happening now, at least a taste of it. It’s all in God’s timing.

The religious Jews stirred up trouble for Paul and Barnabas, so they left to Iconium, but the Christi followers were filled with joy over their salvation and the Holy Spirit.

Job 33-34

In chapters 33 and 34, Elihu continues to confront Job, contradicting his plea of innocence. Elihu states that there must be a higher purpose for his suffering. Let’s be careful not to do this today, assuming that God is behind any suffering the world goes through. Satan was behind Job’s suffering, not God. Elihu and his friends assumed. Job was sure of his heart for God, but unsure why he was suffering. It’s human nature to want to find reasons, but prayer is the way to answers, not assumptions.

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