July 7

Acts 14

Saul and Barnabas won many to the Lord, Jew and Gentile, but they leave Antioch in Pisidia shaking the dust off of their shoes. This act was a sign against those who rejected their message. When someone shook the dust off their feet, they want to leave that place behind, not taking even a speck of dust with them as they move on with their mission.

Saul and Barnabas go into Iconium to preach with miracles following their ministry. Again, they find religious Jews who reject their message. The two hear that the Jews plan to martyr them, so they leaven, going through Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding region. They continue to preach through these places, with signs and wonders following.

In Lystra, there is a lame man. Paul sees that he has the faith to be healed. How do you see faith? In verse 9, it says that Paul was “observing him intently.” At other times in Acts, we read about a “gaze” where the Holy Spirit causes a minister to lock in on someone, perceiving that God is about to do something for that person. The Holy Spirit will lead a minister in a meeting, often feeling “drawn” to certain ones in a crowd because their faith in God is making a pull on the anointing. I have experienced that pull, often sensing the Spirit moving us in the direction of the one the Lord is singling out. The lame man is healed by the power of God.

The people worshipped Roman gods, so when a miracle occurred, the people considered Barnabas to be Zeus and Paul to be Hermes. The priest of Zeus came to Paul and Barnabas to worship them, and of course, Paul and Barnabas corrected them, pointing to the Lord as the One to be worshipped. The people refused to turn to the Lord, holding onto their idolatry.

In verse 19, we see that the angry Jews from Antioch and Iconium were not satisfied with Paul and Barnabas leaving their cities. They got together and wanted to end what they considered to be a threat to Judaism and blasphemy against the Lord. They stirred up the crowd, so the group stoned Paul, supposing him to be dead, and dragged his dead body out of the city. The next day, Paul gets up and walks with Barnabas into Derbe. Either Paul was resurrected or miraculously healed to be able to get up and travel into the next city.

They made many disciples, those who decided to follow Christ and the apostles’ teaching. Of course, it would be troubling to see the persecution against Paul and Barnabas, caring for their well-being. The two acknowledged there would be many tribulations to enter into the kingdom of God. They were not saying that a person has to suffer to get into the kingdom, only that persecution would accompany those who chose Christ. Not only did Paul and Barnabas acknowledge the persecution would occur; but they also accepted to face it for the cause of Christ.

In verse 23, we read that before the apostles left, they prayed and fasted before appointing elders, or pastors, in every church. These spiritual leaders would be responsible to oversee the local churches.

Paul and Barnabas traveled to Pamphylia, Perga, and Attalia before returning home to Antioch, to the church that had sent them out. When they came back, they gave a report of all that God had done with them, communicating that God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Paul and Barnabas had a ministry to go out, but they also knew where their base was, which was their “home church” in Antioch. In that place, they were loved, supported, and celebrated; however, the pastor in Antioch did not direct Paul and Barnabas’ ministry. That pastor did not take authority to tell Paul and his team where to go, what to do, and how to do it. The pastor’s authority was for the care of that local church. Paul and Barnabas’ ministry was under their own authority and responsibility. Paul also had authority over the churches he started to revisit, to instruct, to encourage, to correct, and to protect. However, Paul and Barnabas had a home church to land when they weren’t traveling.

In the same regard, Paul and Barnabas did not try to govern their home church. That home church was not their responsibility and they respected the authority of their home church. That doesn’t mean they didn’t serve while they were home, but their focus was more outward, not inward.

Jerry and I traveled for several years before the Lord had us start our first church. We had a home church that we attended while we were there. In that home church we did not have much responsibility or involvement because we needed to freedom to minister in other places. The pastor would meet with us from time to time to stay informed and connected. We had friends in the church that spent time with us when we were home. We knew we had a place where we felt support, love, prayer, and even some financial help. When we traveled, people knew we had a place of accountability for our lifestyle and beliefs. We all need each other, working together, doing our part in the body of Christ. When we work together, we strengthen one another in a bond of Christ’s goodness and love. Thank God for His kingdom!

Job 35-37

Elihu continues to speak through chapter 37. Job must be listening, but he doesn’t respond. In chapter 35, Elihu condemns Job as self-righteous. In chapters 36 and 37, Elihu speaks of God’s goodness and majesty, addressing Job as someone who is proud and needs to be humbled.

Much of what Elihu says about God is true, but with this truth, he criticizes Job. The Bible is true, but if we are not careful, HOW we use it can be to condemn instead of to encourage.

#covertocoverwithmelanie #covertocover #growchurches #bible #biblecommentary #melaniestone #readthebible #readingthroughthebible #biblereadingplan



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