A closer study of events in Acts 13 reveals some stunning details that need our attention. As you remember, the Antioch church grew out of a movement of God; preaching the gospel to Gentiles by the apostles He sent out from this church. As Barnabas and Saul travel, they come to another Antioch which is in the region of Pisidia (there are about seventeen cities named “Antioch”).
Saul (now called Paul) is allowed to speak in the local synagogue and he gives a marvelous summary of Israel’s history from Egypt to the crucifixion in 27 verses. From this single short sermon, “many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke to them, urged them to continue in the grace of God” (13:43).
You can be certain that when God is at work, Satan will stir up trouble. The door was opened for Paul and Barnabas to speak the next Sabbath. In the days between these two Sabbaths, There are Jews who “were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken” (13:45). The Jews did not realize that jealousy leads to disaster. Paul is swift to condemn their attitude; “the Word of God is…thrust aside and you judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life” (13:46).
The element of jealousy is found in almost every corner of Christendom as well. We must be very careful that this evil is not allowed to grow in our heart and then fester among God’s people. It blinds spiritual eyes and diverts attention away from what God is doing to a self-centered focus and divisive actions. This causes the church to miss what God is doing. Buildings do not matter. Numbers are not God’s concern. Money is not necessary. What is necessary though is open hearts to receive the powerful work of the Spirit through His leading.
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