It seems that I have done a fair bit of writing about the same thing over and over again, but if Luke felt the need to repeat certain lessons in Acts, then I need to do the same thing. Let’s go and have a look at chapter 13 and see what we can learn today.
This is a long chapter, and there is so much to get through, but even the first 3 verses hold so much. I was going to start this post from later on, but just look at those first 3 verses. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, God spoke to them. If you complain that God doesn’t speak to you, are you worshipping and fasting? The interesting thing is that even once God had spoken, they still finished worshipping and fasting. Discipline. Then they laid hands on one another, I assume that they prayed for them (when laying on of hands) and sent them off. Action. Worshipping God and being disciplined will lead to you hearing from God. Pray, and then go and do what you have been called to do. There is a valuable lesson right there.
Paul and Barnabas then came across a false prophet and sorcerer. This guy was a proper false prophet, not just someone that is labelled a false prophet because someone with an opinion didn’t agree with them. This guy was acting with a demonic power. Now we in the church now days, are often scared of the demonic. Even Christians who claim to be walking in power often display contrasting actions when faced with something demonic. Not Paul. He just rebukes Bar-Jesus and he (the false prophet) becomes temporarily blind. Now for those of you rubbing your hands together thinking that this scripture means that God does send illness, think again. It says that the hand of God was against Bar-Jesus. He was specifically and knowingly acting under demonic powers and even then he was only made blind for a time. The Bible is clear that God is for us, so who can be against us. God does not make us ill. Jesus died to heal us (by His stripes we were healed), so why would God act against Jesus?
Then Paul gets himself in trouble again (he seems to do that often). Once again he is caught preaching the truth and the Jewish leaders didn’t like the fact that he was more popular than them (sound familiar?). They once again arranged for lies to be spread about Paul so that they had an excuse to have him punished or killed. Here is one of the warnings from Paul, which I think that we need to heed today.
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
Look, you scoffers,
wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you.”
After this Paul and Barnabas were expelled from the region, so they wiped the dust from their feet and left. Here is the interesting part. They went to teach, they were called in front of the Jewish leaders, they had untrue rumours and lies spread about them, they were persecuted and thrown out of the region. What is the final line of the chapter? And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Even after all of this, they were blessed and filled with the Holy Spirit. Would you say the same if you were in their shoes? If you are where God wants you to be and filled with the Spirit, you’ll experience joy, regardless of what the devil does. This is where I am striving to get to.
I hope that this has been an encouragement to all who read it.