Friday, 23 May 2014
Examining the Evidence
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What evidence did Paul and Barnabas offer to defend their view that Gentiles could be saved without becoming Jews (15:4, 12)?

Acts 15:4, 12

4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them…..12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.

They pointed out where they had been and how many people had heard the good news and accepted it.  Their account was also in the context of great physical effort, persecution, distance.  God was the one who had enabled them to do it.  As further evidence they also included accounts of the miraculous signs and wonders that had occurred which validated what had happened among the gentiles.

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Posted on 05/23/2014 10:49 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 22 May 2014
Peter's Defends going to the Gentiles
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Why did Peter support the Antiochene position?  List his key reasons in 15:6-11.

Acts 15:6-11

6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.

He knew and the assembly knew that God had chosen him to take the message to the Gentiles.  He knew as did the assembly, that God had accepted the Gentiles as evidenced by the giving of the Holy Spirit, the same as had happened to the Jewish believers.  He points out that these Gentiles were saved because they had believed or trusted in the Name of Jesus and it was only by the grace of the Lord Jesus, that they or the Gentiles were saved.  He also knew that the Jews had been unsuccessful in living according to the Law, so why try to make the Gentiles do something that they, the Jews had not been able to do.

 

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Posted on 05/22/2014 10:46 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 21 May 2014
Jacob's Growing Awareness of God
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Describe the character traits and beliefs about God you observe in Jacob as he returned from Haran to Beersheba.

Genesis 31:25-42

25 And Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen pitched tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26 And Laban said to Jacob, "What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27 Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre? 28And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? Now you have done foolishly. 29 It is in my power to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, 'Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.' 30 And now you have gone away because you longed greatly for your father's house, but why did you steal my gods?" 31Jacob answered and said to Laban, "Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32 Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsmen point out what I have that is yours, and take it." Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them. 33 So Laban went into Jacob's tent and into Leah's tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find them. And he went out of Leah's tent and entered Rachel's. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel's saddle and sat on them. Laban felt all about the tent, but did not find them. 35 And she said to her father, "Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me." So he searched but did not find the household gods. 36 Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, "What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37 For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two.38 These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. 39 What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41 These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night."  

31:25-32       Laban tells Jacob that the God of Isaac came to him last night and basically told him: “Don’t touch Jacob”.  Apparently, at this point Jacob hadn’t realized that God was watching over him.  We also are given information that Laban, is a bad dude and capable of doing his brother-in-law harm; Jacob is afraid of him.

31:36-42       Jacob has an epiphany and realizes that God has always been with him.  After listening to Laban, Jacob realizes that God has been with him all along and he tells his father-in-law that, if this hadn’t been the case “You would have really ripped me off.”

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Posted on 05/21/2014 11:05 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 21 May 2014
Handling Disputes between Jewish and Gentile Believers
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How did the Church handle this major dispute between some Jewish believers and the Antiochene Christians (15:2, 6, 12, 22-30)?

Acts 15:2, 6, 12, 22-30

2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question…..6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question….12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them….22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 23 With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul—26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. 30 The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter.

There are several things that come out of this.  First, they decided to refer the matter back to the apostles and the elders of the Church.  They go to them with the problem.  The apostles and elders then meet to consider the question; it is a question about what they should be doing.  The assembly of apostles and elders listens to the question, they listen to all concerned parties which include the Pharisees and those Paul and Barnabas.  They consider what they hear in the context of what they see, what they know has happened and what is happening.  But here is the most significant thing for me, the men who are suppose to be leaders…..LEAD!  They take up and fulfill their responsibility to lead, to make decisions.  But they don’t lead without considering what others are saying, without considering all the information.  Also, and most important, apparently, they allow the Holy Spirit to lead them into making the decision and then confirming it.  They then make sure that the decision is communicated back in a way that is not offensive or confrontational but in fact encouraging.

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Posted on 05/21/2014 10:42 AM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Jacob's Life in a Nutshell
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Give a title to each of these sections and summarize what happens:

Genesis 32:1-21      Jacob hedges his bets or “I trust you God but I’m going to make  some contingency                                   plans”

Genesis 32:22-32    I have wrestled with God---AND NOT DIED (God ALLOWS a man to confront Him and                                  gives him the rights of a prince)

Genesis 33:1-20      The God of Abraham, Isaac and FINALLY—the God of Jacob (Jacob has finally arrived)

Genesis 34:1-31      Can’t we all be brothers?  Nope

Genesis 35:1-15      As for me and my family….(Getting rid of the foreign Gods)

Genesis 35:16-29    Jacob’s Sons (What a bunch!)

Genesis 36:1-43      Esau’s Descendants (The who’s who of Israel’s future enemies

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Posted on 05/20/2014 11:00 AM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Taking the Gospel to the Gentiles
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Despite all the hardships on their trip, what was Paul and Barnabas’ verdict when they reported back to the church in Antioch (14:26-27)?

Acts 14: 26-27

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.

They reported or gave their conclusion to the church in Antioch that their mission had been a success.  They saw that God had done great things through them and instead of seeing closed doors, they saw huge opportunity for spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles.

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Posted on 05/20/2014 10:39 AM by Larry G
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Monday, 19 May 2014
ISRAEL -- Genesis 32:1-36:43
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God told Jacob to leave Haran and return to Canaan (31:10-13).  On the way to Bethel, Jacob made some necessary and unnecessary stoops at Mizpah (31:22-55), Mahanaim and Peniel (32:1-32) and Shechem (33:18-34:31).

Jacob experienced a lot during twenty years (31:38) with Laban.  He left Canaan a young man with nothing but a strong body and a clever tenacious, unscrupulous character.  He returned with two wives, two concubines, twelve children and probably several dozen servants to manage his large flocks and herds.  Was he different in other ways than wealth?  Read Genesis 32:1-35:29 and skim Genesis 36:1-43.

Genesis 32

Jacob Fears Esau

1 Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 And when Jacob saw them he said, "This is God's camp!" So he called the name of that place Mahanaim. 3 And Jacob sentmessengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4 instructing them, "Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, 'I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.'" 6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, "We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him." 7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, 8 thinking, "If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape." 9 And Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,' 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. 12 But you said, 'I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.'" 13 So he stayed there that night, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milking camels and their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, "Pass on ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove." 17 He instructed the first, "When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, 'To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?' 18 then you shall say, 'They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present sent to my lord Esau. And moreover, he is behind us.'" 19 He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, "You shall say the same thing to Esau when you find him,20 and you shall say, 'Moreover, your servant Jacob is behind us.'" For he thought, "I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterward I shall see his face. Perhaps he will accept me." 21 So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles with God

22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27 And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." 28 Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." 29 Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel,saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered." 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob's hip on the sinew of the thigh.

Genesis 33

Jacob Meets Esau

1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. 2 And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3 He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4 But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, "Who are these with you?" Jacob said, "The children whom God has graciously given your servant." 6 Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down. 7 Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. 8 Esau said, "What do you mean by all this company that I met?" Jacob answered, "To find favor in the sight of my lord." 9 But Esau said, "I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself." 10 Jacob said, "No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. 11 Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." Thus he urged him, and he took it. 12 Then Esau said, "Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of you." 13 But Jacob said to him, "My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die. 14 Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir." 15 So Esau said, "Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me." But he said, "What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord." 16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17 But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. 18 And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city. 19 And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. 20 There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

Genesis 34

The Defiling of Dinah

1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her. 3 And his soul was drawn to Dinah the daughter of Jacob. He loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. 4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, "Get me this girl for my wife." 5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah. But his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came. 6And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. 7 The sons of Jacob had come in from the field as soon as they heard of it, and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had done an outrageous thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, for such a thing must not be done. 8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, "The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him to be his wife. 9 Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You shall dwell with us, and the land shall be open to you. Dwell and trade in it, and get property in it." 11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, "Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give.12 Ask me for as great a bride price and gift as you will, and I will give whatever you say to me. Only give me the young woman to be my wife." 13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14 They said to them, "We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15 Only on this condition will we agree with you--that you will become as we are by every male among you being circumcised. 16 Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to ourselves, and we will dwell with you and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter, and we will be gone." 18 Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor's son Shechem. 19 And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob's daughter. Now he was the most honored of all his father's house. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21 "These men are at peace with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22 Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us to become one people--when every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their livestock, their property and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us." 24 And all who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. 25 On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, took their swords and came against the city while it felt secure and killed all the males. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword and took Dinah out of Shechem's house and went away. 27The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28 They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. 29 All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and plundered. 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household." 31 But they said, "Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?"

Genesis 35

God Blesses and Renames Jacob

1 God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau." 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone." 4 So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem. 5 And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, 7 and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, becausethere God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. 8 And Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So he called its name Allon-bacuth. 9God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name." So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, "I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you." 13 Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. 14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

The Deaths of Rachel and Isaac

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. 17 And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, "Do not fear, for you have another son." 18 And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni;but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel's tomb, which is there to this day. 21 Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. 22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine. And Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob's firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's servant: Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah's servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram. 27 And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, orKiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. 28 Now the days of Isaac were 180 years. 29 And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Genesis 36

Esau’s Descendants

1 These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). 2 Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, 3 and Basemath, Ishmael's daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. 4 And Adah bore to Esau,Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; 5 and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan. 6 Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his livestock, all his beasts, and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob. 7 For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together. The land of their sojournings could not support them because of their livestock. 8 So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. (Esau is Edom.) 9 These are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. 10 These are the names of Esau's sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Basemath the wife of Esau. 11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. 12 (Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau's son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These are the sons of Adah, Esau's wife. 13 These are the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These are the sons of Basemath, Esau's wife. 14 These are the sons of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau's wife: she bore to Esau Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. 15 These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: the chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16 Korah, Gatam, and Amalek; these are the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Adah. 17 These are the sons of Reuel, Esau's son: the chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah; these are the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Basemath, Esau's wife. 18 These are the sons ofOholibamah, Esau's wife: the chiefs Jeush, Jalam, and Korah; these are the chiefs born of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau's wife. 19 These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their chiefs. 20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan's sister was Timna. 23 These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 24These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah; he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of Zibeon his father. 25 These are the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah. 26 These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. 27 These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. 28 These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29 These are the chiefs of the Horites: the chiefs Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, chief by chief in the land of Seir. 31 These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. 32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. 33 Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. 34 Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. 35 Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, reigned in his place, the name of his city being Avith. 36 Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. 37 Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates reigned in his place. 38 Shaul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. 39 Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his place, the name of his city being Pau; his wife's name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab. 40 These are the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their clans and their dwelling places, by their names: the chiefs Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel, and Iram; these are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession.

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Posted on 05/19/2014 10:55 AM by Larry G
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Monday, 19 May 2014
The Hardships of Being A New Christian
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When the apostles returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to strengthen and encourage the infant disciples, they warned them, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (14:22).  From 13:50; 14:4-6, 19-20 and from your own knowledge of bigotry, discrimination, and hostility, what hardships could the new Christians expect?

Acts 13:50

But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region

Acts 14:4-6, 19-20

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,….. 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.

From these passages it would appear that the Jews, themselves instigated the persecution of the early believers.  The early believers could be expected to be persecuted which could mean physical violence and expulsion from where they lived.  This would mean that they would have lost their families, their jobs/businesses, and they could expect to be cheated and bullied.  I wonder how much of this is going on here in Milwaukee.  Are unbelieving Jews causing so much of the problems for Christians today, even though Christians have been the greatest allies of Jews.  They are bringing on their own destruction.  They are undermining their own position.

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Posted on 05/19/2014 10:36 AM by Larry G
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Monday, 19 May 2014
What kind of man is Paul?
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What does Acts 14:19-20 tell you about Paul’s character?

Acts 14:19-20

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.

He’s courageous, committed, and persistent.  He stays the course.  Think about this: after they drag him out of the city and basically kill him by smashing his head with rocks, he revives and GOES BACK INTO THE CITY.  Now THAT is commitment!

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Posted on 05/19/2014 11:59 AM by Larry G
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Sunday, 18 May 2014
Paul Addresses the Gentiles
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Acts 14:15-17 gives us our first example of what Paul and Barnabas preached to purely Gentile audiences, as opposed to Jews, proselytes, and God-fearers.  In addition to proclaiming Jesus, what did the apostles have to explain to pagans that they didn’t have to say to Jews and God-fearers?

The Jews knew that God had created all things and that He maintained them.  They had been provided with the knowledge of why the world is as it is, why there are crops, who made them grow, etc.  But the pagans need to be reoriented or motivated to look at the world and to give them a context for the good news.

Acts 14:15-17 (Complete Jewish Bible)

15 “Men! Why are you doing this? We’re just men, human like you! We are announcing Good News to you – turn from these worthless things to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and everything in them! 16 In times past, he allowed all peoples to walk in their own ways; 17 yet he did not leave himself without evidence of his nature; because he does good things, giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons, filling you with food and your hearts with happiness!”

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Posted on 05/18/2014 11:52 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 17 May 2014
People's Religious Beliefs
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The Lystrians reacted to the healing of the lame man like typical rural pagans of that time (14:8-13).  What do you learn from this incident about the religious beliefs of those people—the assumptions that Paul and Barnabas had to overcome?  (List as many observations as you can.)

Acts 14:8-17(Complete Jewish Bible)

8 There was a man living in Lystra who could not use his feet – crippled from birth, he had never walked. 9 This man listened to Sha’ul speaking. Sha’ul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up on your feet!” He jumped up and began to walk. 11 When the crowds saw what Sha’ul had done, they began to shout in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the form of men!” 12 They began calling Bar-Nabba “Zeus” and Sha’ul “Hermes,” since he did most of the talking; 13 and the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates, intending to offer a sacrifice to them with the people.  14 When the emissaries Bar-Nabba and Sha’ul heard of it, they tore their clothes and ran into the crowd, shouting, 15 “Men! Why are you doing this? We’re just men, human like you! We are announcing Good News to you – turn from these worthless things to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and everything in them! 16 In times past, he allowed all peoples to walk in their own ways; 17 yet he did not leave himself without evidence of his nature; because he does good things, giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons, filling you with food and your hearts with happiness!”

 

  • Men can be as gods.
  • The gods can heal people
  • People worship other people
  • People want to worship something
  • People are ignorant regarding who really created them and keeps them alive. 
  • People just take it for granted who provides for them.
  • People don’t consider the world around them.
  • People think that the gods are just like them
  • People are afraid of the gods
  • People have the wrong idea of what sacrifices God really wants
  • People take God for granted
  • People think that the gods or God is aloof and doesn’t have much to do with their everyday life.
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Posted on 05/17/2014 11:47 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 17 May 2014
New Testament Principles in Jacob's Life
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Look for these New Testament principles in Jacob’s life:

Luke 6:37- 38

.. 37 "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38  give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." 

Jacob while living with his father-in-law, Laban learns about forgiveness.  Laban is not a good person and repeatedly cheats and abuses his son-in-law.  But Jacob doesn’t see revenge; he perseveres and continues to serve his father-in-law.  In other words, he continues to give.  But in the end, he does not suffer but ends up with great wealth.

Romans 5:3-5

 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Jacob learns to persevere; he learns not to quit in a bad situation; and as he goes on Jacob becomes more and more aware of God’s presence.  The more he listens to God, the more aware he becomes of God’s presence.

James 1:2-3

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 

Early on, Jacob had made a vow regarding the conditions governing whether or not he would accept the God of Abraham and Isaac as his.  As he comes to realize how God has met all of his expectations and continued to do so, Jacob’s trust in God grows and every time that he, so to speak, puts God to the test, his trust is reaffirmed and he essentially becomes God’s man.

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Posted on 05/17/2014 10:18 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 17 May 2014
Jacob, Rachel, Leah and Laban learn that God's In Charge
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Review what each person did in Genesis 28:10-31:55 and also what God did.  Is there some insight from these chapters that seems to apply to our lives?

Jacob:           Jacob became aware of God.  He doesn’t initially accept Him as his God and sets up conditions which Jacob says God must meet, if He wants Jacob to accept Him.  God absolutely meets all of Jacob’s conditions.  Jacob finally realizes that God had always been with him, looking after him.

Rachel, Leah:          Both are jealous with each other and both are vying for Jacob’s love.  Both in the end turn to God to make their lives fruitful; and God does just that.

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Posted on 05/17/2014 10:15 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 16 May 2014
Dealing with people's basic assumptions about God
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What are some assumptions about God or gods, miracles, creation, morality, the nature of man, etc. that your friends hold?  Which of those beliefs are barriers to understanding and believing the gospel?  How can you help them rethink that assumption?

  • Who is God?
  • What is God like?
  • What is important to God?
  • How did the world and everything come to exist?
  • Is there a “RIGHT” and a “WRONG”?
  • Who says there are a right and a wrong?
  • Does it matter?
  • Are people by nature good?
  • How do you know?

If we use the Apostle Paul for an example, it seems rather simple.  Stick to the facts; reality is hard to refute.  When we consider the overall story provided by the book of Acts, and think about how the Gospel actually spread and the early church grew, we come to the realization that people were not bludgeoned into believing, they weren’t persuaded by political action committees.  No, the early believers lived among people quietly and peacefully and much, if not all of the dialogue was just regular, people to people conversation.  Wow, imagine that; people talking to people.  TALKING.

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Posted on 05/16/2014 11:23 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 16 May 2014
Jacob learns about God
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In the midst of his trials and despite his moral flaws, what did Jacob learn about God (Genesis 30:30, 31:3, 7, 11-13)?

Genesis 30:30

30 For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?"

God has blessed those around Jacob.  It would seem that God blesses everyone, the good and the bad.

Genesis 31:3, 7, 11-13

 3 Then the LORD said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you…. 7 yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me….  11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob,' and I said, 'Here I am!' 12 And he said, 'Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.'" 

Jacob has come to know his father-in-law and he knows that he is not a good man but someone who is greedy, treacherous and probably dangerous.  But Jacob also realizes that throughout his time with Laban, God has protected him and actually prospered him in a bad situation.  Jacob now sees that God is with him and is WATCHING OVER HIM.

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Posted on 05/16/2014 10:09 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Thy Kingdom Come, THY WILL BE DONE
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Write down one or more insights from Acts 12:1-13:52 that apply to our lives.

I think that the biggest insight is that God’s will is going to happen.  Prayer helps us to see things from His perspective.  It helps us see what God is doing.  It also helps us to understand things that are going on in our lives from His perspective.  This gives us hope; He is working and active in the world.  Another insight is that people are watching what is going on; people are looking for a something encouraging to come along in their lives.  I think the encouraging thing that they are looking for has to do with their sins and forgiveness.  I don’t understand all of that.  But apparently, it is the biggest thing affecting our lives.  That’s the message:  THERE IS FORGIVENESS OF SINS THROUGH JESUS THE MESSIAH.  Finally, what God has promised He has brought about in the past; He is doing it now; and He will do it in the future.  We can take that to the bank.

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Posted on 05/15/2014 11:07 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 15 May 2014
God's Commitment to Mankind
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God chose Jacob and his family to be His special people.  Did they deserve this?  Why did God choose such a flawed group?  What does His choice tell you about Him?

This is a rhetorical question.  Obviously they didn’t deserve to be God’s chosen people.  But they were representative of the world.  They are liars, cheats, sexually immoral, disrespectful, envious, coveteous; they possess every bad character trait you can imagine.  If left to its own devices, this family would have probably imploded.  But with God all things are possible.  Who else could pick a sow’s ear and turn it into a silk purse.  What His selection shows is that He is committed to mankind, in spite of all of our shortcomings, He’s going to work with us and clean us up; He is going to do it.  We see that He is patient and that He sees value in people that we don’t see.  We must also consider that He is sovereign; He does things for His own reasons.  We wouldn’t have had a reason to pick Jacob, but God does.  He watches over Jacob, cares for him and guides him when doesn’t want guidance.  He GROWS Jacob and He doesn’t let Jacob and ultimately his descendants go beyond the breaking point.

How does Jacob respond to God after this (Genesis 31:17-18)?

Genesis 31:17-18

17 So Jacob arose and set his sons and his wives on camels. 18 He drove away all his livestock, all his property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac.

He goes back to Canaan as God tells him to do; Jacob obeys God.

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Posted on 05/15/2014 10:06 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 14 May 2014
The Consequences of Doing Our Own Thing
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Consider what happened to each deceiver (Jacob, Laban, Rachel).  How was each person fundamentally deceived with regard to sin and consequences (Galatians 6:7-8)?

Galatians 6:7-8

7 Don't be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, 8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Laban:           Laban tries to cheat Jacob to fill his own pockets.  He winds up with the smaller herd, made up of the weaker animals.  He also ends up losing Jacob and his family.  This involves losing the benefit of Jacob’s skills as a shepherd, but he also loses all contact with his daughters and grand children.  (Proverbs 17:6  -- Grandchildren are the crown of the aged…)

Rachel:          Her concern and that of her sister is that they are going to be cut out of Laban’s estate.  She and Leah are also angry because apparently they think that their father has squandered his wealth or “their” wealth.  Apparently, when she steals his household idols or teraphim, this is just her way of getting back at her father.  However, her life turns out to be in constant conflict with her sister.  She is barren throughout much of her life.  The idols she steals from Laban don’t do anything for her: her life is one big battle.

Jacob:           He starts out by deceiving his father and brother to get to the top.  He winds up working for a crook for 20 years and ends up with two wives who probably made his life miserable. 

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Posted on 05/14/2014 10:02 AM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Paul's Missionary Strategy
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FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION: From the following verses, summarize the key features of Paul’s missionary strategy on this trip Acts 13:14, 46; 14:1-6, 21-23.  Why was each element important?

They would go first to the Jews where they would speak the Word of God boldly and God would provide signs and wonders to validate what they were saying.  They would then go to the Gentiles with the message.  They would then return to each group to strengthen and encourage them.  Then before leaving them, they would appoint elders for each church.  Then they would pray for them and commit them to the Lord.  I think that they had to go first to the Jews to fulfill the scriptures that they would be ever listening but never hearing, always looking, but never seeing.  I guess this was a sign also to the Gentile listeners who would be watching and would realize that scripture had been fulfilled.  They would also return to each church to strengthen and encourage its members.  Each would have had its own challenges and they made sure that they were sufficiently grounded to be able to survive what was ahead.  This is why leaders were also appointed.  The body was being built up and being united.  I think the last thing that they did, the committing of their work to the Lord was really significant because in doing so, they were acknowledging that God was ultimately in control; He is sovereign.

Acts 13:14, 46

  1. From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down…..46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

Acts 14:1-6, 21-23

  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,…. 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.
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Posted on 05/13/2014 5:07 PM by Larry G
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Monday, 12 May 2014
Gentile Christians -- Acts 14:1-15:35
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Paul and Barnabas are still on their mission, acting as “a light for the Gentiles” to “bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (13:47).  Their view of the Church’s mission will soon prove decisive for the whole of history.  As you read 14:1-15:35, think about how those events have affected your life.

Acts 14

1 The same thing happened in Iconium; they entered the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brothers. 3 So they stayed there for some time and spoke boldly, in reliance on the Lord, who testified to the message of His grace by granting that signs and wonders be performed through them. 4 But the people of the city were divided, some siding with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5 When an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to assault and stone them, 6 they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian towns called Lystra and Derbe, and to the surrounding countryside. 7And there they kept evangelizing.

Mistaken for Gods in Lystra

8 In Lystra a man without strength in his feet, lame from birth, and who had never walked, sat 9and heard Paul speaking. After observing him closely and seeing that he had faith to be healed,10 [Paul] said in a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he jumped up and started to walk around. 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the form of men!" 12 And they started to call Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the main speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the town, brought oxen and garlands to the gates. He, with the crowds, intended to offer sacrifice. 14 The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their robes when they heard this and rushed into the crowd, shouting: 15 "Men! Why are you doing these things? We are men also, with the same nature as you, and we are proclaiming good news to you, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them . 16 In past generations He allowed all the nations to go their own way, 17 although He did not leave Himself without a witness, since He did good: giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, and satisfying your hearts with food and happiness." 18 Even though they said these things, they barely stopped the crowds from sacrificing to them. 19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. 20 After the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

Church Planting

21 After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, "It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God." 23 When they had appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 After they spoke the message in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed back to Antioch where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work they had completed. 27 After they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they spent a considerable time with the disciples.

Acts 15:1-35

1 Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved!" 2 But after Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, they arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning this controversy. 3 When they had been sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, explaining in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they created great joy among all the brothers. 4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!"

The Jerusalem Council

6 Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them: "Brothers, you are aware that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the gospel message and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10Why, then, are you now testing God by putting on the disciples' necks a yoke that neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way they are." 12 Then the whole assembly fell silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describing all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they stopped speaking, James responded: "Brothers, listen to me! 14 Simeon has reported how God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 And the words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written: 16 After these things I will return and will rebuild David's tent, which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins and will set it up again, 17 so that those who are left of mankind may seek the Lord- even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does these things, 18 which have been known from long ago. 19 Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those who turn to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood. 21For since ancient times, Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, and he is read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath day."

The Letter to the Gentile Believers

22 Then the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, decided to select men from among them and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. 23 They wrote this letter to be delivered by them: From the apostles and the elders, your brothers, To the brothers from among the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 Because we have heard that some to whom we gave no authorization went out from us and troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts, 25 we have unanimously decided to select men and send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who will personally report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it was the Holy Spirit's decision-and ours-to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things:29 that you abstain from food offered to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these things, you will do well. Farewell.

The Outcome of the Jerusalem Letter

30 Then, being sent off, they went down to Antioch, and after gathering the assembly, they delivered the letter. 31 When they read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 Both Judas and Silas, who were also prophets themselves, encouraged the brothers and strengthened them with a long message. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent back in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas, along with many others, remained in Antioch teaching and proclaiming the message of the Lord.

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Posted on 05/12/2014 5:01 PM by Larry G
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