Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Acts 18

Acts 18 has Paul coming to Corinth and meeting a believer named Aquila and his wife Priscilla who had fled Italy after Claudius commanded the Jews to leave Rome.  This husband, wife combo were tentmakers like Paul, and provided a place for him to stay as he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews.  But he didn’t get a good response at all so “he shook out his garments and said to them, Your blood be on your own heads!  I am innocent.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles”.  Paul isn’t going to stay where people aren’t willing to listen.  He moves on to a different place in Corinth and stays with Titus Justus who lived next to the synagogue.

Many were hearing and believing Paul’s message, but there was a group that opposed him everywhere he went, and he lived with a cloud of concern over his head as the opposition Jews were trying to drive him away or worse.  But God gives Paul a vision.  “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people”.  God assured Paul that not only was he safe, but he was among friends, lots of them, in God’s Kingdom.  So “he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them”.

Paul didn’t give a message or teach a day or two.  He was there for eighteen months teaching and preaching and sharing Jesus.  That’s a serious investment.  But the resistance to his teaching continues and finally the Jews attack him and drag him before the local proconsul Gallio.  He rejects their request, but that doesn’t keep them from beating the ruler of the synagogue sending a strong message to Paul and his fellow disciples.  So they move along on their missionary journey and stop at a number of cities.

What happens when Paul stops in a city?  Scripture tells us he “reasoned with the Jews….greeted the church….strengthening all the disciples”.  He was about impacting the local Christ Followers and preaching Christ crucified.  As he went, he ran across strong Christ Followers that he also worked with like Apollos whom he met in Ephesus.  They spoke boldly together and Apollos joined the effort to preach Jesus as “he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus”.  Our calling is no different than Paul, Aquilla or Apollos.  We are to ‘go and make disciples’.  That was their charge.  It remains ours today!

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Acts 17

Acts 17 has Paul preaching the gospel in Thessalonica.  “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ”.  The message was simple and direct, and it connected with many in the city.  That doesn’t sit well with the established religious leaders.  “But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd”.  The establishment wasn’t about to let this outsider come in and disrupt what they had going.  They went on a hunt to find Paul and Silas to silence them.

They didn’t find them and the local believers sent them on their way to Berea.  Paul discovered something different there.  “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so”.  Here is the example of what we need to do with the teaching we all hear – we need to take what we’ve heard to scripture and make sure it lines up.  We shouldn’t just take the teacher or preacher at face value.  We need to compare what is said to God’s Word.  They did, and “Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men”.

Word got back to the Jews in Thessalonica about Paul’s success in Berea, so they went there to try and upset that like they had in their own town.  They were successful and Paul was whisked out of town and heads to Athens where he begins to address the idol worship he discovered there.  His teachings about Jesus were fresh and new, and the people were intrigued.  “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything”.

He deals with their idolatry head on.  But he gives them the perspective that they need to be curious about the God Paul talks about.  “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him”.  God isn’t some unreachable impersonal being.  He wants a personal relationship and Jesus Christ is the way to have that.  His message connected and some Christ Followers came to be as he taught and challenged their status quo.

Acts 14

Acts 14 has Paul and Barnabas at Iconium where they were teaching and preaching the Good News and “spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed”.  The message was landing with people and they were coming to Jesus, both Jews and Greek.  But not all were.  And “the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.  There was a segment of the establishment that didn’t like what Paul and Barnabas were teaching – and certainly didn’t like what they believed was ‘their place’ being shared with Gentiles.

So “the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles”.  No matter how good the news was, it meant change and that always comes with resistance, even when it is good.  The opposition becomes more serious and “When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe….and there they continued to preach the gospel.  It was time to get out of town while they still could, so they pick up and move on down the road to the next city.

The greeting at Lystra was overwhelming as Paul heals a man who had been crippled since birth.  It so moved the crowd that they wanted to offer a sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, who immediately rush out and try to stop that action.  “We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them”.  They didn’t want to bring praise on themselves, but pointed people to God who is alone worthy of our praise.

But the detractors followed them as well.  “Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead….when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city”.  The resistance was growing and they were getting serious about shutting Paul up, to the point of trying to kill him.  So Paul and Barnabas leave another town and keep moving to the next church.  They had work to do to set up the early churches for success with leadership, as it was becoming obvious they would not be able to do it themselves with all the resistance that was following their every step.

They needed to put a leadership layer in place in each church.  “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed….And they remained no little time with the disciples”.  The Apostles went from church to church and selected elders that would serve as local leaders.  But it was far more than just picking a few people to lead.  They also stayed and discipled those individuals so they were prepared in how to effectively move the church forward and keep it on course to share the Good News of Christ with those around them.

Acts 10

Acts 10 has Cornelius receiving a vision from God to send some of his men to bring Peter back to his place.  So he does, and God gives Peter a vision that they were there for him and he should go with them. As part of that vision, God also instructed him about what he could eat, shattering the teaching he had always followed. “What God has made clean, donot call common”.  The three arrive and the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them”.  Not a lot of detail, just God’s direction to go.

So Peter went down and agrees to go with them.  “Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends”.  There is a bunch of people assembled when Peter arrives.  “And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered”.  This was a big deal to Cornelius.  Peter says to him “when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me”.  Peter is unsure why he was summoned, and Cornelius is basically in the same boat.  “Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord”.  Not a lot of clarity, just trust that God has a plan.

Then we see the power of God at work.  Peter has no clue what he’s to talk about.  “So Peter opened his mouth” and  gave a powerful message to the people that had gathered.  He didn’t know why he was there and certainly didn’t know what he was there to share.  But God moved when he was obedient and opened his mouth.  That’s how God works.  What God originates, He orchestrates.  He gave Peter the words based on his obedience.  Peter said, speaking of Jesus, “he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead….that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name”.

It was the message of the gospel and as they believed, “the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles….he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  It was a huge day filled with God’s hand at work in the lives of two men who really had no clue what was happening but both just obeyed as God led them.  It turned into an evangelistic service where God moved and changed the lives of many through one man’s words and another man’s invitations.

Acts 7

Acts 7 has Stephen before the high priest defending himself.  He gives a long history lesson of God’s faithfulness and the blessings God has bestowed on His people.  He walks through the story of Abraham and Isaac and Moses and continues to the present time where they have killed the Christ.  He then lets them have it.  “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.  As your fathers did, so do you”.  Not a gentle and quiet defense to say the least.  Stephen was direct and in their face.  But he continues.

He tells them “they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it”.  All the show the religious leaders tried to make wasn’t worth anything and Stephen calls them out.  They are not amused.  “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they  ground their teeth at him”.  The easy way out would be for Stephen to keep his mouth shut and just take the punishment the high priest might hand out.

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”.  Stephen was tuned in and connected to God.  Does that describe your relationship with the Father?  What would you do if accused of your faith and standing before someone who wants you to deny that faith in order to be set free.  Stephen doesn’t give an inch and “they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him”.  Stephen answered without fear and was willing to face the persecution that was headed his way.

“Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him….the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul”.  Here we meet the man Saul who was right in the middle of the killing of Stephen.  But he doesn’t give an inch, and “as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.  Stephen doesn’t lose sight of the reality that God is there with Him.  “And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. And when he had said this, he fell asleep”.  Stephen doesn’t lose sight of his relationship with God and even while they were killing him for his faith, he willingly offers forgiveness and love.  That’s faith in action God’s way.

Acts 6

Acts 6 has the Apostles dealing with growing pains.  “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution”.  People are people no matter when and where they are, even 2000 years ago they were looking out for their own interests. The special interest group of Hellenists were upset that their widows weren’t getting the same attention as the Hebrews, so they filed a complaining with the church leadership – the Apostles.

Rightfully so, the Apostles determined that it just wasn’t their problem to deal with.  They had other responsibilities so they needed to put a team in place to take care of the problem.  “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables”.  Big lesson here on priorities and fulfilling our HABU (highest and best use).  God wants us using our talents, gifts and heart in the most effective way possible to further His kingdom.  For the twelve, it was staying focused on the work of the ministry that they have been performing.  So they instruct the disciples to “pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty”.

They even delegated the selection process because they had a single minded focus of not getting drug into the needed solution.  “We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word”.  They stayed the course and seven were selected to take on the needed focus of caring for the widows.  As a result “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith”.  Not only did the church continue to grow but some of those who were part of the established religious leadership began to follow Christ.

One of the selected was “Stephen, full of grace and power, doing great wonders and signs among the people”.  Again, it is upsetting some of the religious leaders so “they secretly instigated men who said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God….This man never ceases to speak words against  this holy place and the law”.  All lies, but enough to get him hauled in before the council.  But what they saw was not what was expected.  “And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel”.  Stephan gets a chance to defend himself in the next chapter!

Acts 4

Acts 4 has Peter and John stirring up quite a bit of activity that was upsetting the way things were.  “And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead”.  Anybody who was a leader or powerful was on hand.  The healing of the lame man has stirred the pot and the religious leaders want to shut it down sooner than later.  They arrest Peter and John and bring them before the leaders.

As they are questioned, Peter answers “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well”.  There aren’t any words to make it clearer than that.  Peter and John were fearless in telling the story of the power of Jesus.  But they don’t end with that.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone”.  They accuse the religious leaders of crucifying the son of God and the cornerstone of the church.  “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”.  It’s clear as can be – Jesus alone is the only way to be saved.  There is no plan B, no other options, it is Jesus or nothing.  Peter and John fearlessly proclaim that truth before all the people and leaders.  It’s the same for us today.

Things are getting out of hand and the religious leaders are losing control.  “So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus”.  Like that is going to stop them.  Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”.  Peter and John are not going to be deterred.  They are going to speak the truth of Jesus.  “Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while  you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus”.

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