ACTS – The Acts of God
God is in it. God is guiding you as you do His work and obey His call. Ministry to others is going well. New believers are a result of God’s work. So evil pulls out his greatest tool in his belt of lies…gossip. It begins with questioning the leaders ability to serve then moves on to a whispering campaign to discredit what is being said, taking words out of context and twisting them into lies. Nothing grieves the Holy Spirit more and is more destructive to the work God has invited us to do than gossip among His people.
When Paul later writes his letters back to the churches, encouraging God’s people to stick with The Message of Jesus Christ in a Spirit of love and peace, it is because of these trying moments on the journey of telling the Good News at the meeting places of the Jews first and then to non- Jews. He knew from experience that God’s people would be tried and tested as he was.
How does Paul handle the conflict? He moves away from it for awhile but then comes right back for The Message is more important than hurt feelings and being physically beat! The ultimate goal and mission is to get The Message out to all who will listen and be saved by God’s salvation in Jesus. It is a matter of life or death.
Acts 14, The Message
1-3 When they got to Iconium they went, as they always did, to the meeting place of the Jews and gave their message. The Message convinced both Jews and non-Jews—and not just a few, either. But the unbelieving Jews worked up a whispering campaign against Paul and Barnabas, sowing mistrust and suspicion in the minds of the people in the street. The two apostles were there a long time, speaking freely, openly, and confidently as they presented the clear evidence of God’s gifts, God corroborating their work with miracles and wonders.
4-7 But then there was a split in public opinion, some siding with the Jews, some with the apostles. One day, learning that both the Jews and non-Jews had been organized by their leaders to beat them up, they escaped as best they could to the next towns—Lyconia, Lystra, Derbe, and that neighborhood—but then were right back at it again, getting out the Message.
What do we learn?
–Whispering campaigns begin from the lips of prideful people afraid of losing control.
–The campaign to discredit Paul and Barnabas didn’t slow them down. Does the slightest word of discontent slow down the work God has given us to do?
–Paul and Barnabas were confident in speaking because God gave them the words of Truth to speak. When you know Truth, you are confident. God also allowed them to show evidence to the people of the gifts God had given to them to share. God validated their work, in other words. How does God validate the work we do for Him today?
–Avoid “beatings” at all costs. Paul and Barnabas kept teaching in the surrounding towns and then came back when things calmed down. We can diffuse a situation by backing off and then trying to tell the Truth again later.
Dear Heavenly Father,
The attacks on us while doing your work are hard but expected. Thank you for telling us from the beginning that “in this world, you will have trouble” and encouraging us at the same time, “but You have overcome the world.” Greater are YOU in us, than evil who is in the world. Thank you, Lord for the calm assurance and rich confidence of knowing Your Truth.
In Jesus Name, Amen