Thursday, July 22, 2010

Acts 14b

Acts 14 (NIRV) No whys. No hows. We're just scratching the surface here. What do you see? And maybe you need to tell your kids..."I'm not looking for right or wrong answers here. What do you see?"

Through most of the chapter Paul & Barnabus are taking a journey. They've been commissioned - sent out on a mission - they have a purpose, a job to do. Sometimes the people they spoke to believed them. Sometimes they didn't. They faced definite challenges.

They spoke with "great power" and won over lots of people. Jews who didn't believe tried to "poison the minds" of those new believers against Paul & Barnabus (vs. 1-3) so Paul & Barnabus "spent a lot of time there". They didn't seem to be in a hurry or on a set schedule. God performed miracles "to confirm the message of His grace".

There's more conflict & disagreement (vs 4-7). Then the leaders and members from both groups threaten Paul & Barnabus. When the apostles find out their lives are in danger they flee. But they continue their work in other cities & surrounding areas.

When they heal the man with the crooked legs (vs 8-10) things sort of backfire. Or maybe we could say the apostles face the opposite of opposition. (vs 11-18). The people want to worship them as gods. See how upset Paul & Barnabus are about this? They don't even seem to wrestle with the possibility of deserving this "honor". They tear their robes. In verses 14-18 look at the grace-filled picture of God they paint for these people. Look at their references to elements solely under God's control that these people would be intimately acquainted with.

The opposition shows up again (the Jews from Antioch & Iconium) and they win over the crowd. They stone Paul & drag him out of the city & leave him for dead.(vs 19-20) Where was Barnabus? We don't know. The disciples gather around him. Turns out Paul didn't die. The scriptures don't tell us that the disciples pray for healing for Paul but we do know Paul is left for dead but he doesn't die. One minute he's almost dead but the next minute he gets up and goes back into the city. The next day Paul & Barnabus are off again.

The next place they go they win lots of people. Then they return to Antioch (home of the competition and I think their starting point, the place they were commissioned) (vs 21-23) They help the believers gain strength. They tell them to remain true to what they've been taught. 'We must go through many hard times to enter God's kingdom,' they said, knowing first hand. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders, leaders, in each church for the people they influenced but it looks like they did that when they came back, not right away. The elders had trusted in the Lord. Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted. They placed the elders "in the Lord's care."

They continue to travel & share the good news & God's Word. (vs 20-24) Do you have any idea how much exercise these guys are getting, lol?

They go back to Antioch where they had been originally committed to the Grace of God to do the work He gave them to do. I wonder if it meant committed as in dedicated or committed the way you commit your child to the care of a stewardess when they need to take a flight without you ...

How old do your kids need to be to read the stories of scriptures and make observations about grown ups doing God's work? There are various levels of observation. The wonder of God's Word is that every time you read it He'll show you things you didn't see before. We keep growing and changing always experiencing more of life, and hopefully more of God. Our perspectives and understandings grow & change. Then, you can read scripture with a child a half a century younger than you are and he/she can point out something you've never seen before. He is an awesome God.

I think older kids can listen to this chapter, one part/one scene at time and make observations. Giving kids age appropriate but sometimes challenging opportunities to see, hear, and interact with the Word and ask questions (even if you don't have answers) is a good thing. Maybe it can help them grow "eyes to see" and "ears to hear"... and us, too...

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