ACTS – The Acts of God
The best leaders (and teachers) begin with the conversation with what you already have heard and know and then take you a little farther down the road of your thinking by introducing you to new information. When this connecting information attaches nicely to what you already have been taught then real, lasting learning takes place.
Paul and Barnabas continue their journey of telling the Good News. “On the Sabbath they went to the meeting place and took their places.” After Scripture was read, the leader opened the door to discussion, by asking, “does anyone have anything you want to say”. That’s as good as saying “sick ’em” to a dog as far as Paul is concerned!
Paul, who later teaches all of us as God’s church to “make the most of every opportunity”, (Colossians 4, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”), walks through the open door offered by the leader of the meeting place.
Read how he skillfully takes his audience through their past and connects what they know to what they have been waiting for all this time…Jesus, the Messiah, who takes away the sins of the world! He leads them to the grace of God. No one knew better about God’s grace than Saul, the persecutor who was redeemed and now known as Paul the passionate preacher of the Good News of salvation through Jesus.
Acts 13, The Message
13-14 From Paphos, Paul and company put out to sea, sailing on to Perga in Pamphylia. That’s where John called it quits and went back to Jerusalem. From Perga the rest of them traveled on to Antioch in Pisidia.
14-15 On the Sabbath they went to the meeting place and took their places. After the reading of the Scriptures—God’s Law and the Prophets—the president of the meeting asked them, “Friends, do you have anything you want to say? A word of encouragement, perhaps?”
16-20 Paul stood up, paused and took a deep breath, then said, “Fellow Israelites and friends of God, listen. God took a special interest in our ancestors, pulled our people who were beaten down in Egyptian exile to their feet, and led them out of there in grand style. He took good care of them for nearly forty years in that godforsaken wilderness and then, having wiped out seven enemies who stood in the way, gave them the land of Canaan for their very own—a span in all of about 450 years.
20-22 “Up to the time of Samuel the prophet, God provided judges to lead them. But then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, out of the tribe of Benjamin. After Saul had ruled forty years, God removed him from office and put King David in his place, with this commendation: ‘I’ve searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.’
23-25 “From out of David’s descendants God produced a Savior for Israel, Jesus, exactly as he promised—but only after John had thoroughly alerted the people to his arrival by preparing them for a total life-change. As John was finishing up his work, he said, ‘Did you think I was the One? No, I’m not the One. But the One you’ve been waiting for all these years is just around the corner, about to appear. And I’m about to disappear.’
26-29 “Dear brothers and sisters, children of Abraham, and friends of God, this message of salvation has been precisely targeted to you. The citizens and rulers in Jerusalem didn’t recognize who he was and condemned him to death. They couldn’t find a good reason, but demanded that Pilate execute him anyway. They did just what the prophets said they would do, but had no idea they were following to the letter the script of the prophets, even though those same prophets are read every Sabbath in their meeting places.
29-31 “After they had done everything the prophets said they would do, they took him down from the cross and buried him. And then God raised him from death. There is no disputing that—he appeared over and over again many times and places to those who had known him well in the Galilean years, and these same people continue to give witness that he is alive.
32-35 “And we’re here today bringing you good news: the Message that what God promised the fathers has come true for the children—for us! He raised Jesus, exactly as described in the second Psalm:
My Son! My very own Son!
Today I celebrate you!
“When he raised him from the dead, he did it for good—no going back to that rot and decay for him. That’s why Isaiah said, ‘I’ll give to all of you David’s guaranteed blessings.’ So also the psalmist’s prayer: ‘You’ll never let your Holy One see death’s rot and decay.’
36-39 “David, of course, having completed the work God set out for him, has been in the grave, dust and ashes, a long time now. But the One God raised up—no dust and ashes for him! I want you to know, my very dear friends, that it is on account of this resurrected Jesus that the forgiveness of your sins can be promised. He accomplishes, in those who believe, everything that the Law of Moses could never make good on. But everyone who believes in this raised-up Jesus is declared good and right and whole before God.
40-41 “Don’t take this lightly. You don’t want the prophet’s sermon to describe you:
Watch out, cynics;
Look hard—watch your world fall to pieces.
I’m doing something right before your eyes
That you won’t believe, though it’s staring you in the face.”
42-43 When the service was over, Paul and Barnabas were invited back to preach again the next Sabbath. As the meeting broke up, a good many Jews and converts to Judaism went along with Paul and Barnabas, who urged them in long conversations to stick with what they’d started, this living in and by God’s grace.
Part two tomorrow…Paul returns to preach once more.
What do we learn?
–Know God. Know Your Audience. Know The Message. Be ready on all occasions to make the most of every opportunity to tell the Truth.
–Live in and by God’s grace.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Your Word teaches us to fine tune the way we tell Your Story to those who do not know or have heard only half the story. Thank you for encouraging us to live in and by your grace. We are a messed up people saved only by Your Grace. Thank you for saving us. Continue the work to transform us from the inside out. We are yours.
In Jesus Name, Amen