Summary: We see God's grace at work through Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. God is in the journey, in the tribulations and in the ordinary. We can trust in the sovereignty of God for the salvation of the lost.
Good morning, everyone. Let us pray.
We praise you, dear God, with all our hearts. We praise you for WHO you are and for WHAT you’ve done. Thank you, Lord for your presence in our lives.
Forgive us for the times we have turned from Your ways and returned to call on you only when we are in trouble. Forgive us for forgetting about you in the good times. Thank you for not abandoning us, for your kindness and patience despite our disobedience.
We come to you, heavenly Father, out of the busyness of a hectic life, to find this moment of peace with You and to hear from You again. We thank you that in Christ you lift us up with your Word when we are down, you encourage us when we are hurting, you heal us when we are sick, and you strengthen us when we are weak.
Our hope is in you, Lord. Your grace is always there for us. Let your Word strengthens us again today. Prepare our hearts to hear from you, Lord.
This we pray in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.
We are reading Acts 14 today, the whole chapter. By the end of it, we would have come to the end of Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey through Asia Minor.
• They “… reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (14:27)
• Hence the title to the sermon today – seeing God’s grace at work.
• Paul and Barnabas moved to Iconium, Lystra and Derbe and we are going to see God’s grace at work in these 3 places in Acts 14 today.
Last week we heard how the Jews and Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch were moved by the message of Paul and they responded in different ways.
• Many believed Christ and were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (13:52).
• There were serious enquirers who wanted to hear more about the message of Christ.
• But we also have a group that rejected the Gospel. They were against the message, and then they came against the messengers, Paul and Barnabas.
What about you? Which group will you be in? What is your response to the Gospel?
• We all fall under one of these groups – those who believe Christ, those who reject the Gospel, or those who are still seeking to understand.
If you are not a Christian now, then I hope you are one of those serious enquirers wanting to know more about Jesus.
• We hear more so that we can understand and make an informed choice. Who is Jesus Christ to you?
• Ultimately it will take a step of faith but I trust that the Lord will guide you to that point, and I hope that day will come soon for you.
• We all need to make a personal decision about Christ.
At the end of Acts 13, we see Paul and Barnabas being forced to leave Pisidian Antioch.
• The unbelieving Jews incited the influential men and women of the city and stirred up a persecution against them. They left for Iconium.
Acts 14:1-7 ICONIUM
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.
Paul and Barnabas speak the truth about Christ wherever they go, despite the oppositions, and we see God’s saving works - a great number of both Jews and Gentiles believed.
• Opposition arose and they stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against them, but Paul and Barnabas stayed longer and continued to speak more boldly.
The “message of His grace” is repulsive to the traditional Jews who pride themselves in keeping the Law and doing good works.
• These Judaizers, that’s the term we call them, insisted that Gentile Christians have to adopt Jewish customs and practices and observe the Law of Moses to be saved.