Tell me what is more powerful

Words are so powerful,
It’s hard to believe;
Words are so powerful
I never knew;
Words, I bet you,
Are the most powerful
Of forces;
You may say prayer is
most powerful;
Yes, it is;
But prayer is said in
words,
Spoken or unspoken;
Words are never to be
toyed with;
With words alone,
God made the world,
And all that is found
in it;
With words,
Sin, suffering
and death sneaked
Into the world,
Through the backdoor;
And through
The Word made flesh,
We are saved
From eternal damnation.
What is more powerful
Than words?

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The Dynamic Story of Paul the Apostle, Part 2: First Missionary Trip

The year was 46 A.D., and with the death of King Herod, the church was again free to preach the gospel. However, the persecution of Christians in Jerusalem by the Jews and Roman authorities increased; they forced many believers to leave the area.

Paul and Barnabas headed to Jerusalem to meet Cephas (birth name Simon but later renamed Peter, by Jesus). Cephas was the fourth child born to Noah after the great flood. The men spent fifteen days fasting and praying. One day, news arrived the melting pot church in Antioch (in Syria) wanted missionaries to preach to the Jews and Gentiles. Many believers moved during the upheavals in Jerusalem, and they needed churches throughout the region.

The Holy Spirit spoke to the church elders in Antioch, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) The church laid their hands on Paul and Barnabas in 47 A.D., and they boarded a ship headed to the island of Cyprus on their first missionary trip.


SALAMIS/ PAPHOS

They arrived in the port city of Salamis. The Roman influence was everywhere – public baths, a large theater, and a temple dedicated to Zeus. The Graeco-Roman world was ready for the message of the gospel. Focusing on the Jews, Paul and Barnabas wasted no time proclaiming the word of God in local synagogues. Most who spread the word of God were Jews who scorned and persecuted Christian missionaries. But many believers were ready to receive Paul’s ministry across the island.

Three months passed, and the two disciples decided to walk westward to Paphos, the seat of the Roman government. It was the worship center for the goddess Aphrodite (Venus). Word spread quickly they arrived in town. Soon a message arrived – the island’s Roman governor, Sergius Paulus, wanted to meet them and hear God’s word. It was also an investigation who was causing all the commotion in his community.

When the governor entered the room, Elymas (also called Bar-Jesus), a threat to the Christian community, strayed in behind him. Paul heard about this false prophet (sorcerer), and he became infuriated of his intentions, but just the same, they spoke the message for the governor. Elymas turned to the official and urged him not to pay attention to their untrue words. Paul was livid and stared Elymas in the eyes. He remembered his own experience in Damascus and knew blindness would humble a proud man.

“You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” (Acts 13:10-11)

Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

Elymas stepped back, and a mist and darkness came over his eyes.

“Help me! I can’t see! Someone, please, take my hands and guide me out of here!”

The governor’s eyes opened wide, and he proclaimed the gospel as truth.

*SPECIAL NOTE: This incident was a critical turning point for Paul and his ministry. He became the team leader, initiated by Barnabas because Paul showed unusual faith and courage. The move showed Barnabas was selfless enough to set the good of others above personal glory. Instead of always striving for power, it is always seeking to help.


PERGA/ PISIDIAN ANTIOCH

Paul and Barnabas set sail once again, this time to the mainland of Turkey. They arrived in Perga, an ancient city of Pamphylia, and proceeded onward to the Roman colony, Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath, they visited a synagogue and the church leaders invited them to speak.

Paul lifted his hand and began his speech. He started with the Israelite history, and finally, he introduced Jesus.

“It is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel! Before he came, John the Baptist preached that all the people of Israel needed to repent of their sins and turn to God and be baptized… Brothers – you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles – this message of Salvation has been sent to us!” Acts 13: 23-24

He told the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and the laws of forgiveness. Paul ended his speech with these final words:

“Brothers, listen! We are to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is made right in God’s sight – something the law of Moses could never do. Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you.” Acts 13: 38-40

Many of the Jewish and Gentile listeners were so enthralled, they invited him back the following week. This time, the whole city gathered to hear the news. Angry, jealous Jews stood in the crowd slandering, and they created arguments with Paul. Persecution soon followed Paul and Barnabas. In a state of frustration, they declared they would no longer preach the word of God to Jews…

“…since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. For the Lord gave us this command when he said, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’” Acts 13: 46-47

The Ruins of Antioch

The elated Gentiles spread the Lord’s message throughout the region. They celebrated their conversion to Christianity. However, the furious Jews gathered prominent members of the city to expel Paul and Barnabas from their city. They did not want the missionary’s blasphemy in Antioch. So be it…


ICONIUM

With a smile in their heart, and the happiness of converting many Jews and Gentiles to Christianity while in Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas headed southeast to Iconium. They preached much in synagogues, and the Lord gave them the power to perform miracles. The city became divided in their beliefs of the Good News – is it Judaism or Christianity? Upheavals ensued, and the opposition grew in strength. A huge plot to kill Barnabas and Paul spread across the town. Rumors of their impending death instigated the missionaries to flee Iconium. Paul and Barnabas left immediately and traveled to the remote city of Lystra, just twenty miles away.


LYSTRA

This little city laid within tall Roman walls and many beautiful temples dedicated to Greek Gods stood tall and proud. The temple of Zeus was the most popular for he was the father of the Greek gods. Paul and Barnabas settled right into their new surroundings. They continued to minister in the synagogues and converted many to Christianity.

One Sunday, Paul looked out over the audience and noticed a man with crippled feet intently absorbing his spoken words. Paul thought, “He needs the faith of God.”

“You! Stand up!” Paul yelled to the man. The startled man jumped to his feet and started walking. (Acts 14: 8-10)

A loud gasp of shock, then cheering erupted from the crowd. People everywhere shouted, “These men are gods in human form!” (Acts 14:11)

The priest of the temple of Zeus and a crowd of people began laying wreaths of flowers and some pulled bulls to the town gates. These were signs of sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. The people mistakenly thought Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Hermes. The apostles tried to convince the crowd they were mere men.

“Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings – just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.” (Acts 14: 15-18)

It was impossible to restrain the crowd. In the distance, Paul and Barnabas saw some Jews from Antioch in Turkey and Iconium arrive on the scene. Were they here to support them? No! The Jews yelled out to the masses.

“These men are imposters! They are blasphemous! Stone them! Stone them!”

Stoning of Paul. Attribution to Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleimages.org

The crowd, in great anger, surrounded the apostles and pounded Paul with rocks and stones. (It was never disclosed if Barnabas was also stoned in the Bible). In the agony of pain, Paul passed out, so the angry people dragged him out of the city. A small group of believers gathered around him for they thought he was dead, but God had different plans. The Lord miraculously healed Paul on the spot, and he got up off the ground and walked right back inside the city.

The next morning Paul and Barnabas made the grueling thirty-mile walk to Derbe in central Turkey.


DERBE

Paul preached the Bible with great success in Derbe, and in each town, he established priests to say Mass and celebrate the sacraments. The early Christian churches were quickly establishing themselves as a stronghold in every city he visited on his mission trip. Eighteen months passed, and they felt it was time to go home.


REVISIT TO LYSTRA, ICONIUM, AND PISIDIAN ANTIOCH

Though victims of persecution, Paul and Barnabas decided to retrace their steps. They would return through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch on their way to the ship. The apostles strengthened and comforted believers and they appointed elders in the church of each city. Paul was confident the Lord would protect these early churches.


GOING HOME TO ANTIOCH OF SYRIA

Paul and Barnabas returned home by ship to Antioch of Syria in 48 A.D. Paul gathered his church together and reported all of his good deeds while in each city. “…we’ve opened a door of faith to the Gentiles,” he exclaimed with delight. The gospel spread far and wide. Paul’s journey was a preparation of more to come.

COMMENTARY:

Paul’s first successful missionary trip gives us an idea of the very beginning of Christian churches in the world. King Herod’s reign boasted fear and hatred, particularly amongst the Jews. After he died, Christianity took hold of the land for many witnessed the life and resurrection of Jesus. The church of Antioch of Syria was the foundation for sixteen more Antioch’s built in the ancient world. They had several outstanding leaders of which Paul and Barnabas were two of them.

What can we learn about the early Christian churches?

  1. Though God selects who will disciple His word, the early churches developed the skill of leadership. They meticulously trained their missionaries and ministry teams which came from many diverse backgrounds. Strong support for their apostles came in the form of prayers, education, and mentoring skills.
  2. The first Christians were Jewish Christians, either by conversion or birth. They revered the Hebrew bible in religious text which was often in Greek. They were a sect of Judaism in Rome.
  3. The early Gospels spread only by word of mouth, so training of leaders was critical for success. Preaching included the history of Jesus and His parables, salvation, and forgiveness.

Paul built many early Christian churches in this eighteen-month trip. His first journey covered the regions of south-central Asia Minor, Turkey, and Syria. He traveled about 1,400 miles spreading the Good News.

Paul’s first missionary trip teaches us several Christian highlights:

  1. Christianity met with horrible opposition and much persecution. As I’ve always said, history repeats itself for this perplexing situation still continues today. God warns all Christians; many will not believe in Him. Walk away from non-believers and pursue those who want to find a better way of life. In Paul’s case, he always began teaching to the Jews, but the Gentiles became the church’s followers.
  2. Perseverance is a virtue and is a mark of great spiritual maturity. A strict dedication to God is the only way to covert doubters to believers.
  3. It is unnecessary to fully convert non-believers. God uses Christians just to plant the seeds.
  4. Paul demonstrated the ultimate meaning of forgiveness. They expelled him from Perga, plotted his murder in Iconium, and almost died from stoning in Lystra, yet he walked back into every city and pardoned their people. He prayed for their forgiveness of sins.
  5. Paul could perform unusual miracles, but they were done as a last resort – to testify of God’s power and strength.

In conclusion, I pray for those who do not know the light of God. Let us never give up planting seeds, but remain in constant prayer… just as Paul.

Did you miss Part 1? Click here to read it.


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Quintessence of Faith

She stood under the cross motionless and watched her son’s holy blood dripping upon her feet. Bitterness and tremendous grief overwhelmed her soul while she stayed with Him until the last minute. The reverence of heaven exists as we can only imagine what it’s like to witness your child brutally crucified at the hands of haters. But, Mary, according to scriptures, remained passive and resisted the temptation to protest the unfairness of Jesus’ prosecution.

It is often said there is nothing worse than outliving your child. I can attest to this as I watched my grandmother sob while her son laid dying on a hospital bed. I can only imagine Mary’s anguish as she witnessed the excruciating pain Jesus suffered from the stakes in His feet and hands. In her glorious strength, still, Mary fought off her own inhibitions to be first, a mother. She knew she would make the ultimate sacrifice when she accepted God’s invitation to give birth to a Savior for Simeon warned her of Jesus’ fate.

Mary was the quintessence of faith in God. As an inexperienced, pregnant mother, she knew the truth about her son’s existence. It was her destiny to deliver a child who would save the world. Throughout Jesus’ life, Mary often feared for her son’s life, but her intuition spoke He was in God’s hands. However, on Good Friday, she must have questioned why Jesus was sent to earth to save sinners, only to be killed by them. I’m sure she also wasn’t prepared for the method of His brutal death.

It is my observation, though, Mary is to be the ultimate example of strength for parents who lose their child to senseless religious crimes. When we defend our Creator, it becomes a movement towards the only ray of light which exists in this world’s darkness. We stand under the cross to eliminate chaos and bitterness, spreading the love of God. How can it be wrong?

Mary could have easily fallen into the trap of screaming and attacking evil-doers at the presence of Jesus’s injustice. But, she walked with loyalty to the Lord in gentleness, forgiveness, and peace.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

What a model of discipleship Mary portrays to Christians today! Let us stand in strength, under the weight of the cross, and resist the shadows of evil.

Praise His holy name! www.danabicksauthor.com

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The Stars are Lining Up

I awoke with a monumental feeling God is communicating with me, revealing His plans for this world. It is time to prepare for a significant force which controls the universe. God is coming to rule the earth once more. My heart beats an unsynchronized rhythm as the Lord drives a wedge between this reality and His forthcoming Judgment Day. I shudder at the thought of Christ ruling over the genocide of this world. Obliviated is the only word I can use to describe it. Christ will turn a deaf ear as He decides who lives on, and who does not, in heaven. For those who passed on before His coming, let us pray they asked forgiveness and repented of their sins according to the Laws of God, so they may have eternal salvation.

Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. As is written in the Bible, unbelievers will not be saved and those who claim to know God, yet they withdraw and live an unholy lifestyle.

Titus 1:16

“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” (NIV)

Many sins pointed out in the Bible need repentance, but the list below is those the most abominable to the Lord. Do you fit into any of these iniquities? If so, it is time to drop to your knees and pray for forgiveness; live the rest of your life through His Word.

One nation under God is comparable to buying a new car for $99 down and $99 a month. Impossible, and false advertising at best. A nation under God would pray and worship together, study and stay in God’s word; it lives in prayer keeping God first. Today we face murder, rape, theft, abortions, worshipping false gods, agnostics, and atheists running rampant. This lack of respect for our Almighty God will be the first obliterated when Christ calls again unless mankind changes now. Satan’s followers will not be allowed through heaven’s gates. No, this is not my opinion, but a fact!

John 3:3

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’”

What are the signs of the end times, according to the Bible?

  • Mankind will be lovers of pleasure more than God. This includes partying, unfit television viewing, spending more time socializing versus studying the Word, reading lustful books, gambling, drunkenness, listening to secular music, obsessing over the internet. Fifty years ago, worldly entertainment did not exist, and people lived a simpler life. Today, lovers of pleasure are all around us.
  • Mankind will be covetous. Most people today seek worldly riches, with money and material possessions their top priority in life. But, we have those who lust at pornography, strip clubs, and even other spouses. Women flaunt seductive clothing publicly with little to the imagination. We clamor for the latest and greatest money can buy or to keep up with the Joneses.
  • Children will be disobedient to their parents. Today’s generation of children has little respect for parents. They participate in gangs, join riots and protests, bully others, and create drama and chaos in the family home. Society teaches them there is no God, so morals and values are pointless.
  • Mankind will be unthankful. We’re conditioned by the world to take life for granted and not be thankful for our blessings. Ungratefulness runs rampant today.
  • Mankind will be unholy. Many are far less holy and humble today. Some even believe we need not keep the ten commandments anymore, just as long as we “believe” in Jesus. They turn the grace of God into a license to sin. Churches are social places, theaters, and concerts, rather than holy places of worship. Little effort, today, is made to turn away from sin and live a holy life for God. Yes, unholiness overruns the earth today.
  • Mankind will display a lack of natural affection. Gays and lesbians become the accepted norm, and what is scarier, some even take higher positions within our churches. The book of Corinthians condemns these actions. Does this sound familiar?
  • Mankind will despise doers of good. In today’s age, people dislike the correction of their sins. They rebuke with “you are judging me.” If someone is seen as a holy person, they are snubbed, criticized, and labeled as a weirdo or goody-two-shoes.
  • Mankind will be lovers of themselves. This is the ME generations. What looks best on me? How can this make me look more prosperous, smarter, or better qualified? How many toes do I need to step on to get what I want? Who cares how many people are starving on the streets – I come first! Need and greed stand before serving God and His people.
  • Christians do not live the faith they proclaim. Many are hypocrites, never turning away from their sin. Most love the world more than they love God.

So, as the wrath of God swarms… it’s almost time for the change of command. You mark my words, Christ is coming to take over His world; be it in my lifetime or yours, it won’t be long now. The stars are lining up, and a remarkable event of unexpected consequence is about to take place. Christ will meet Satan at his doorstep, better known as earth.

I pray you may recognize the sins mentioned in this blog and ask for forgiveness today. Turn your actions into something productive and serve God and his people with compassion and love before it’s too late. Seek the word of God’s truth so you, too, may greet your loved ones and Jesus at heaven’s gates.

http://www.danabicksauthor.com

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Is God all powerful?

Many are asking the question:
Is God all powerful?
Some say he is;
And can do and undo;
Some others say he isn’t;
That if he were,
He would crush the devil
And rid the world of evil.
They are very convinced
God is not all powerful.
I am convinced
God is all powerful.
He could crush the devil
If he wanted;
But he has decided otherwise;
He has allowed both good
And evil in the world;
We are free to choose which
To follow;
Who are we to question God?
Do we have a say on how
The world is framed?
It’s part of the mystery
Of God.
God is all powerful.
God can do and undo.
God could end the life
Of the devil if he wanted.
God opted for an active world,
Not a dead world.
God is all powerful.

Powerful weapon called prayer

God is at the center
Of my life;
I talk with Him
Many times daily
Through prayer;
I pray to him
Throughout the day;
First, in the morning
As I get out of bed,
During the day,
And at night.
Prayer is my first meeting
With God before I start my day.
Through prayer, I meet Him
Before I meet anyone else;
When I pray,
He gives me blessings;
And gives me strength.
And after I have
Communicated with Him,
I go on to communicate
With others;
When I talk to Him,
I nourish my Spirit;
Prayer is, indeed, a powerful weapon,
When you pray,
You put God in first position
in your life.
You must, therefore, not fail to pray;
You must not stop praying;
You must pray without ceasing.