Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Not exactly gods... (Acts 14, Isaiah 43:18-19, Romans 10:17)

"The Bible has all sorts of wisdom for us"
I took this photo in New York City
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Acts Chapter 14

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.
Iconium was in Asia, today it would be Turkey.  Interesting, because I've heard there were many Christian artifacts in Turkey : )

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.

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.
This would be a big nightmare for the Apostles.  Jesus is the final sacrifice.  So being called greek gods and offering to make sacrifices would be the wrong answer to their preaching.  They were filled with the Holy Spirit so if it's anything like what I've experienced they would've been able to say what the Lord wanted them to.

The closest I've ever come to this was when I was designing web sites.  I had to go upstairs and talk to one of the managers about the site.  As I walked through the cubicles the guys started bowing to the ground saying, "I'm not worthy."  Hahaha I told them not to bow down to me because I'm a Christian and we can't have that.  They told me they couldn't believe what I did on the web.  I then earned the title, "Web Chick."  I haven't had many nicknames so I thought it was great : )  

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.
It sounds like the people were even more anxious to worship the apostles after they explained the truth.  Sometimes we all just don't get it... do we?  

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.
Paul must've still been alive. The Lord knew it wasn't his time to die.  Derbe was a city in the district of Lycaonia in the Roman province of Galatia in south central Asia Minor. 

18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJV)
I love these verses.  It describes what happened to Paul.  He could've given up but he kept going.  For me, it helps me stop thinking about the bad stuff in my past and focus on new things.  Even the hurts from last week can be forgiven when I dwell on God's point of view.  Wonder what new things will come up for us. Faith in Jesus is the start of a great adventure.   Each of us will be tasked with new things.

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.
I'm so glad they got some encouragement.  I've had many bad days and have always found encouragement from reading the Bible.  I have a wooden box of favorite Bible verses I've written down on index cards, so in case I need some hope I can pull them out and remember the truth.

Sharing Bible verses is a great way to help others understand how to be a Christian.  I used to walk with a good friend at lunch, when I was working.  I'd share a verse I'd just learned with her and she'd ask questions.  Then one day she called to tell me she became a Christian.  

17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Romans 10:17 NIV)

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.
(Acts 14:1-28 NKJV)
I can just imagine the stories, laughter and surprises.  Just think we'll be hanging out with the Apostles in Heaven one day.

Heavenly Father,
I thank and praise You for the gift of forgetting and forgiving.  It's hard for us to let go of past mistakes.  Thank You for the many adventures I've been able to experience. Help us to forgive ourselves and others as You have forgiven us.  Thank You for the Holy Spirit who gives us words to say, and helps us understand the Bible.  As we share our faith with others.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

(Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV)

In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Here's a song from the Newsboys, Glorious (link)

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