The Journey Begins
I have often referred to the BIBLE as a Book of Instruction Before Leaving Earth. Acts of the Apostles is a great example of that.
The Christ-led movement seems to have come to a halt, with the death of their leader, Jesus. The disciples fled for their lives when Jesus was arrested and lived in fear until Jesus visited them after His Resurrection. The disciples were only followers of Jesus at the time, and failed to understand or even comprehend Jesus’ true purpose, it seemed.
Jesus gave them tasks while He was with them, and blessed their efforts so they might understand that without heavenly directives, every human effort was in vain. Even at the last supper, they were wondering what authoritative position they may attain. They missed the mark. Jesus, in all of His heavenly wisdom, understood this and promised them a counselor after His departure. One thing that was missing in the disciples’ lives was the heavenly influence in their personal lives, The Holy Spirit. They had seen it in Jesus, but hadn't realized it in their own lives.
This precious gift enabled the disciples to show others the beauty of a Christ-centered life and the benefit of surrendering selfish desire to the service of Jesus and God, His heavenly Father. Eyes were opened, lives were saved, and the Christian movement began to gain momentum.
With any new movement, there is always opposition, and the Jewish traditions stood strong and totally against what Jesus had professed. The leaders constantly plagued the disciples with harassment and false accusations, fearing for their own self-interests. The Jewish people were always stiffed necked people, and very slow to understand, let alone to respond.
The word of God was for all people, not just the Jews. Jesus needed a person of steadfast attitude, and strong spiritual conviction to share the gospel message to all humanity. Jesus chose Saul (Paul). This man was indeed steadfast in his attitude, strong in his convictions of spiritual life, and would not waiver in his mission to share truth, regardless of the consequences.
This choice confused many at the time, but when they all saw the transformation in this individual, they stood in awe, I'm sure.
Paul was teamed up with Barnabas for a while, a deeply spiritual man with the love of Jesus in his heart. This was a good match all the way around. Barnabas was a good mentor for Paul, and Paul was a good spokesperson for the Gentiles to understand the spiritual aspects of Jesus and the new concepts of the resurrection and forgiveness of sins, not just ceremonial traditions and rituals. Paul and Barnabas met with fierce opposition no matter where they went, but by faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, they moved forward, no matter what the circumstances. Paul’s faith grew strong and unwavering, and because of his steadfast attitude, many were led to a new life in Christ.
All of the disciples met with strong opposition regardless of where they went, but one thing that could not be denied, no matter what took place, was the Holy Spirit's influence in all that believed, and accepted the free gift of forgiveness that Jesus professed.
We have the same opportunity to receive this very same gift, and the rewards that come with it. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.…” An act of courage must take place before we realize the benefit of faith. Isaiah 43:1, “Fear not for I am with you.” We are commissioned to do the same as our forefathers did who went before us, share the gospel message regardless of the circumstances that may come. Psalm 125:1
Praise the Lord.
was born and raised in So Cal. He moved to Oregon in 1973 after marrying his lifelong partner, Karen. He has a son, Chris, who is married to Tae Sun, and he has a beautiful granddaughter, Jackie. He loves the outdoors: hammock camp, bicycling, fishing the coastal streams. He loves to travel the unbeaten path. The Water Pasteurization Indicator Project has allowed us to reach those in need of clean water and what a blessing it has been.
The Word of Promise audio Bible is used by permission. For more information and to purchase the complete audio Bible go to https://www.wordofpromiseapp.com/.
Paul and Barnabas Are Sent to the Gentiles
1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
Preaching in Cyprus
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.
6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”
And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
At Antioch in Pisidia
13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”
16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. 18 Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. 19 And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.
20 “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ 23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus— 24 after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’
26 “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. 28 And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. 29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead. 31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.’
34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus:
‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’
35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm:
‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’
36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:
41 ‘Behold, you despisers,
Marvel and perish!
For I work a work in your days,
A work which you will by no means believe,
Though one were to declare it to you.’ ”
Blessing and Conflict at Antioch
42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us:
‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
4 But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, 6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. 7 And they were preaching the gospel there.
Idolatry at Lystra
8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked. 11 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” 18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.
Stoning, Escape to Derbe
19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Strengthening the Converts
21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” 23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25 Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.
27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
The Lord the Strength of His People
A Song of Ascents.
1 Those who trust in the Lord
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.
3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
On the land allotted to the righteous,
Lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity.
4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
And to those who are upright in their hearts.
5 As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways,
The Lord shall lead them away
With the workers of iniquity.
Peace be upon Israel!