I’d like to think that I am a fairly smart guy. Going back to my school years I made decent grades but I could have done better. One of the areas I struggled with was math. I know the reason is that I had no desire to learn or sometimes even listen to what was being taught. I saw no benefit in learning it. So I guess I fit into the, “you can lead a horse to water ……” Category. If our hearts aren’t in something the likelihood of fully grasping it is pretty slim.
As Paul continued his ministry into Corinth, like all cities he entered, he went to the synagogue to bring the message of Jesus. He was once again met with resistance from the Jewish contingency. They had chased him from 3 other cities and this must of been his proverbial last straw. From that point forward he didn’t refuse Jews but since their hearts were not open to the message of Jesus, he turned his focus to converting Gentiles.
In our own journey to bring the message of Jesus to friends, family and stranger alike, it is God who prepares hearts. Deliverance begins with desire. You will never argue your way to conveying the message of Jesus to another. You can’t debate salvation to it’s fruition. You can be aware of the message you send to others by your own actions. We should never have to force the issue of salvation. When the time is right for an opportunity to share Jesus, rest assured God will present it. Acts 18:5 – When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.
One perceived stigma of being a Christian is doubt. I say perceived because I truly don’t think you’re being honest with yourself if you say you’ve never doubted. However, that’s another devotional …….. Today we face an ever growing opposition to the Message of Jesus. There are days that I think I’m in Bizzaro world, up is down, left is right, right is wrong and so on. Discouraging to say the least, right? WRONG!!!
As Paul and Silas continued their mission they entered and preached the Message of Jesus in Thessalonica. They reached many Greeks and Jews, so much that some of the leaders gathered a mob to chase them from the city. When they could not find Paul and Silas they instead brought forth some of the people they befriended to receive punishment. Their activity drew more than attention from those who chose not to believe.
The opposition we face is much the same. If the Message of Jesus was without substance why would anyone waste their time to oppose it? If didn’t matter, why are there countless groups that work everyday to dissuade others from believing? The simple answer is something we already know. God is! Jesus, his son came to die for our sins on the cross. The Holy Spirit exists to equip us in this life. Yes, it’s all true! So if today you doubt, know that’s just part of your growth in Christ. Then look to the opposition and smile, as he came to die for them as well. Acts 17:6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,
How many times have your plans been derailed? If you’re like me, more than I can count. How many times has that set of circumstances turned out for the better?
As Paul continued his ministry he became acquainted with Timothy and ask that he join him. Paul had planned to continue west into Asia Minor but was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go there. However, he was equally prompted to go into Macedonia and continue his ministry there. The scriptures tell of two notable conversions on this journey. One of a girl named Lydia, whom God had already prepared her heart for accepting Jesus. The other a guard who was watching over Paul and Timothy after they were put in prison. His conversion was much different as he had to be dramatically introduced to the power of God. God had bigger plans for Paul and Timothy as both of these encounters worked to change many other lives.
This chapter demonstrates how little control we really have in our life. God continually orchestrates our paths and their intersection with others. The missionary David Livingstone summarized the spirit of Paul when he said, “I am prepared to go anywhere, so long as it is forward.” We should adopt this spirit as it truly is a statement of trust in God’s plan for our lives. So the next time your plans change for a seemingly inexplicable reason be encouraged and excited, for it is God working in your life.
Acts 16:6 – And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
A few years back I was at a business conference and the buzz phrase that came out of this meeting was, “paradigm shift”. It’s one of those fancy white collar terms that means, “things are fixin’ to change”, and you might wanna get on board.
As the disciples continued to spread the message of Jesus some of the converted Jewish leaders still felt it necessary for any gentile to adopt Jewish rituals and beliefs. The problem wasn’t with the new gentile believers, it laid directly at the feet of the Jewish converts. They still felt it necessary to hold on to some of their old traditions. To know and follow the law of Moses was at the top of this list. They still had not fully bought into the fact that with Jesus’ sacrifice they were made clean. The Gentiles were new to all of this so they were understandably confused.
Here’s the good news, other than confessing your sins and believing that he came to die for all men, Jesus has and never will make knowing him conditional. He takes us as we are and only asks us to know him more. If we do this in earnest, the changes come from within. Therein lies the paradigm shift of what some religions will proclaim. Outward practices of religion are just that and rarely serve to bring us closer to God. Other than a willing heart and faith in his Son, God makes no distinction on who may come to know and be with him. Whether you are a curious bystander, new believer or religious fanatic, knowing Him more may be the paradigm shift you’ve been looking for! Acts 15:11 – But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”