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Acts 14:1-28, Glory greater than tribulations

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Acts 14:1-28, Glory greater than tribulations

1.At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.  2.But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.  3.So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.  4.The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles.  5.There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them.  6.But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country,  7.where they continued to preach the good news.  8.In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked.  9.He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed  10.and called out, "Stand up on your feet!" At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.  11.When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!"  12.Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.  13.The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.  14.But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:  15."Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  16.In the past, he let all nations go their own way.  17.Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."  18.Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.  19.Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.  20.But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.  21.They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,  22.strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said.  23.Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.  24.After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia,  25.and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.  26.From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.  27.On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.  28.And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

<Sermon>  God works in our evangelism. The Lord is pleased with our evangelism for God and His kingdom and pours His grace upon us. There are great tribulations in evangelism, but the glory given as a result is incomparably greater.

 1. Iconium Mission: Spreading the word of grace through the Lord (1-7)

 Persecution follows Paul's evangelism. However, the persecution is also evidence of the spread of the gospel. Paul and Barnabas enter a Jewish synagogue in Iconium (See map) in central Turkey today and preach the gospel. Why a synagogue? In order to spread the gospel to many people in a short period of time, they preach the gospel first to those who know the Bible (Old Testament). God gives them strength and does amazing things. They testify to His word of grace. The Lord gave them the word of grace, and they preach while testifying that they had experienced the amazing grace of the Lord. V. 3, “So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.” With God's help, the gospel continues to spread. But ‘Hosadama’, “Good things comes with bad things.” The Jews who do not obey the gospel incite the Gentiles to harbor evil feelings toward the apostles. The apostles continue to stay there and help the faith of new Gentile believers, and the Lord confirms the words of grace delivered by the apostles with signs and wonders. The devil leaves in the name of Jesus, and patients are healed. However, the persecution intensifies and his opponents try to stone them to death. Then the apostles go to other places (Lystra, Derbe, see map) and preach the gospel. *Even if there are obstacles, what is God’s work that I must do more diligently like the disciples? Let us continue to evangelize the gospel and serve God. Gal.6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Amen.

2. Lystra evangelism: Stand up with faith (8-18)

 They go to Lystra and preach the gospel. There, a man who had been unable to walk since birth gained faith while listening to Paul's sermon. Faith comes from listening to God’s word. If you keep listening to the word of God, your faith will grow and grow. You must have faith to obtain spiritual salvation. Also, only if you have faith can you be saved from physical illness, that is, healed. Vs. 9-10, “9.He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10.and called out, "Stand up on your feet!" At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.” When he heard Paul speaking, he looked at him and saw that he had faith to be saved.“ This disabled person, who cannot walk, listens to Paul's sermon and develops great faith to be saved (cured from the disease). Paul declares to him: “Stand up on your feet!” Until now, he have never been able to stand up on is own feet. But, “Right now, stand up for yourself with the faith that God will heal you.” This patient stood up on his own, jumped up! Something amazing happened. Hallelujah!  God has done an amazing thing. However, those who saw this said, “The gods have come down among us in human form” (11), and they thought that Paul and Barnabas were gods and attempted to hold a sacrifice. Calling Barnabas Zeus (the Greek main god Zeus) and Paul calling him Hermes (the mouthpiece of Zeus), the priest of the temple of Zeus came to the gate with cows and wreaths and wanted to make a sacrifice with the crowd (12-13). In response, the two apostles tore their clothes and screamed to stop him(14). Verse 15, “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.” The apostles are not gods. They’re just human like us. Worshiping humans is vain. This is an obstacle to the gospel and a sin that takes God’s place. Taking God's glory on one's own is also a mortal sin. 12:22-23, Consider King Herod, who died while taking God’s glory.  Yes. Only God is the Creator and the living Almighty God. The good God gives rain, makes us fruitful, and fills us with food and joy. Return to this God (16-17). Eventually they stopped making sacrifices to humans. Here, Paul and Barnabas could never remain silent in order to spread the correct gospel.  Paul preaches to Gentiles who do not know God at all. He preaches the gospel to Jews by quoting the Old Testament, but to Gentiles, he preaches the living God by enlightening them about God's common grace revealed in all things in nature. He informs them that idolatry is a great sin before God and discourages sacrifices. When preaching the gospel, it is wise to be flexible enough to suit the audience.  Let’s look at Paul’s principles of evangelism. 1 Cor. 9:18-23 says: 'He did not use up all his rights to gain the benefit of many, or even just a few, but became their slave, becoming a Jew to the Jews, a Gentile to the Gentiles, and a weakling to the weak.' He tried to win people by becoming this. *Like Paul, am I preaching the gospel flexibly according to people? Let's make a specific plan.

3. Evangelism at Derbe: Hope greater than persecution (19-23)

 As God's grace is great, so are the obstacles to God's work. The Jews follow Paul wherever he go and hinder him. The people in Lystra, prompted by the Jews, stone Paul. Those who had tried to sacrifice Paul and Barnabas as gods just a little while ago changed their minds after receiving an impulse. Paul, who was thought to be stoned to death, rises again by the grace of God. Paul and Barnabas head to Derbe, and despite persecution, the number of disciples of the Lord continues to increase. The work of salvation achieved through suffering is even more valuable.  Now it is time for them to go back. They revisit areas they had visited previously, areas they had pioneered, and areas that had been severely persecuted, reflecting on the needs of the church and strengthening the faith of the disciples. A life of faith comes with tribulations. Tribulation includes internal and physical suffering. However, there is a glory that is hundreds of times greater than this tribulation. Verse 22, “He strengthened the hearts of his disciples and encouraged them to remain in the faith, saying that we must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God (heaven).” The hope of an evangelist is to establish disciples of true faith who hope for the kingdom of God even in times of tribulation. Rom.8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Rom. 5:3-5, “3.Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  4.perseverance, character; and character, hope.  5.And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.“
* What are the fruits that I sow and cultivate for the kingdom of God?

4. Return to Antioch and report on mission work (24-28): “Everything is God’s work (grace).”

 Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch, Syria, where they had left on missionary missions (13:1-3). They gather churches together and report on their missionary work. Verse 27, “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” They say, ‘All that God did together.’ They make it clear that the subject of missionary work is not themselves, but ‘God.’ It also says that God ‘opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.’ It is announced that a new dimension of gospel evangelism has been opened with God's help. God expanded the scope of missionary work through Paul and Barnabas, whom He set apart to do the work He told them to do. They hide their own efforts and merits and exalt God's work. Yes! The attitude of an evangelist is to be happy and satisfied with the calling and mission. 1 Cor.15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them -- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” I am what I am by the grace of God. Amen.  *Do we confess that the fruit of the gospel is not our hard work and merit, but entirely the grace of God? Amen.

 Dear believers, today too, we have been saved by believing in Jesus through someone sent by God. He allows us, like Paul, to preach the gospel, Jesus Christ. The Lord helps and is with you and enables you to carry out this precious task. Sometimes there is tribulation, persecution, and sufferings. Let us rejoice even in tribulations. The glory that will come to us in the future is much greater than this tribulations. Therefore, I pray that you all become blessed saints in heaven who boldly preach the word thanks to the Lord and achieve “Jesus’ life, my life, and our life.” Amen!

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