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Green Pastures and Still Waters

I joke about the Baptist Mafia periodically; sometimes I wish we had one, most of the time I am relieved that we don’t!  If you have been following our study in Acts, you know that Paul is regularly in trouble with someone; pagans, believers and most often, Jews. In our passage this week, we meet what I refer to as “Jewish Hitmen.”  Paul’s message had created such a hullaballoo that one scholar wrote, “The Jews would not be reached. They were not only unwilling to hear the claims; they were unwilling to let those making them continue to live.”  They wanted Paul dead! Forty men took a vow to neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. They even involved the religious leadership in their plot. Should the gospel really create that much antagonism? Yes and no. Yes, because if the gospel is really believed it runs counter to much of what our culture holds near and dear. I am surprised we have survived! If people only knew what we believe and proclaim!!! No, because the gospel is good news to be received! Eternal life is available to all who believe.  Why don’t people want good news? We’re not being run out of town yet and I’m not aware of any plots against our lives but I do know this, the gospel is lovely and dangerous. People have died in the defense of it, are we willing to live in light of it?   


Do you ever feel like you need to apologize for your faith?  If you share your testimony, maybe you even start by saying, “I’m sorry, this may offend you and I don’t mean to sound like a bigot but…”  It’s interesting to note the manner of Jesus and the apostles on this matter.  Because they believed the Father was drawing people and the Spirit was at work, they simply shared the truth and let it stand.  They believed that where there was good soil, there would be good fruit.  In our text for Sunday Paul shares an “apologia,” a defense of his life and actions.  That the defense caused offense was no fault of Paul’s.  These days people are offended over just about everything.  Cancel culture has virtually eliminated dialogue and the freedom of speech on the college campus.  It’s not much better in the everyday conversations among people at work, play and business.  What are we to do when so many are offended?  We should honestly evaluate our message and our manner but, when the gospel is the offense, we must simply remember the words of our Lord when the disciples said that He had offended the Pharisees, “He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."  Whoa!  That sounds a little harsh but remember Who said that and that a disciple is not above his master.