ACTS – The Acts of God
Some of you will be old enough to remember the television show, Dragnet, shown only in black and white (yes, it’s that old). Joe Friday was the lead detective who spoke in direct, matter of fact, soft, simple tones. He rarely physically ran or raised his voice as you see in detective shows today. He spoke the truth he knew and asked for, “Just the facts” from his informants when interviewed. At least that’s what we remember…I looked it up…Joe Friday never actually said, “Just the facts, ma’me” but it was certainly implied because that was his MO, “method of operation”.
Isn’t it funny how we think we hear something and believe it was said even though it wasn’t? We need to be careful and get “just the facts” so we pass on real truth that transforms lives. Always look it up…in God’s Word.
In the next passage…part two of yesterday’s story…Paul and Barnabas have stayed in town, by invitation, to speak more about the truth of living by and in God’s grace because of Jesus’ work on the cross. The popularity of this new Truth reaches nearly the whole town. Can you imagine the “word of mouth” spreading throughout the city? “Come with me to Sabbath next week, you must hear what these two men have to say!” Let’s read what happens next…
Acts 13, The Message
44-45 When the next Sabbath came around, practically the whole city showed up to hear the Word of God. Some of the Jews, seeing the crowds, went wild with jealousy and tore into Paul, contradicting everything he was saying, making an ugly scene.
46-47 But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they said, “It was required that God’s Word be spoken first of all to you, the Jews. But seeing that you want no part of it—you’ve made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life—the door is open to all the outsiders. And we’re on our way through it, following orders, doing what God commanded when he said,
I’ve set you up
as light to all nations.
You’ll proclaim salvation
to the four winds and seven seas!”
48-49 When the non-Jewish outsiders heard this, they could hardly believe their good fortune. All who were marked out for real life put their trust in God—they honored God’s Word by receiving that life. And this Message of salvation spread like wildfire all through the region.
50-52 Some of the Jews convinced the most respected women and leading men of the town that their precious way of life was about to be destroyed. Alarmed, they turned on Paul and Barnabas and forced them to leave. Paul and Barnabas shrugged their shoulders and went on to the next town, Iconium, brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit, two happy disciples.
What do we learn?
–Paul and Barnabas, being Jews themselves, didn’t back down on speaking Truth.
–Paul is careful to stick to the Truth, following orders from the Holy Spirit.
–The Jews are outraged that “outsiders” are welcome to receive Jesus’ salvation.
–The “outsiders” are thrilled and receive God’s gift of salvation, “real life”!
–The message of salvation for all spread like wildfire!
–The Jewish leaders turn on Paul and Barnabas but nothing can rob them of the joy of “just following orders” with the just the facts, ma’me.
Later, Paul reminds the church to tell the Truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) That’s where the joy comes from when attacked by others for telling the truth. Some are hungry to know. Others what to stay entrenched in self and tradition. We must stand our ground with the Holy Spirit of love and peace in our hearts. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict and challenge others to receive. Our orders are to just tell it. Jesus saves. We don’t.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We love following the journey of your happy, joy-filled disciples! Thank you, Father for Your word that teaches. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for working the Word in and through us, helping us to understand and think it through. Thank you, dear Jesus, for dying for our sins and redeeming our souls. Continue to transform our thinking and behavior.
In Jesus Name, Amen