Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 3 - Acts 14

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 14. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Paul and Barnabas go to a place called Iconium where they spend "considerable" time speaking boldly for the Lord.  They are so bold that everybody hears about it, including their opposition, who eventually run the two out of town.  Paul and Barnabas later return to encourage the believers there.
  • In Lystra their boldness leads people to think they're gods.  Paul and Barnabas deflect the praise by acknowledging they are merely human.  Opposition from Antioch and Iconium arrive and stir up the crowd.  As a result, Paul is stoned.  
  • Paul and Barnabas returned the way they came -- appointing elders in each church in the cities they had visited.  An "elder" is a leader in a congregation who teaches, organizes, and lives a life radically devoted to God.  

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Following Jesus sometimes requires perseverance.  Near-death experiences would stop most people from preaching.  But not Paul.  He got up and kept preaching about Jesus.  
  • Following Jesus also requires boldness.  It takes boldness to love those who reject us and our beliefs.  
  • God gives testimony to himself by showing us kindness in a multitude of ways.  For example, giving us rain and crops and food (verse 17).

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What is a current hardship you are facing?  Where are you tempted to give up in your faith?  Be encouraged by Paul's example to persevere!  Also, be encouraged by Jesus' example by reading Hebrews 12:1-3.  What does perseverance look like in your specific situation?  Pray and ask God to give you the strength you need to persevere.  
  • Pray for the kind of boldness that Paul and Barnabas had.  Not bold in an obnoxious way, but bold in a loving way.  Who in your life could you share the love of Jesus with this week?  
  • Make a list of ways that God has testified about Himself to you.  In what ways has He shown kindness to you?