Perseverance in Opposition

Speak BOLDLY for the Lord

Acts 14

So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Acts 14:3

Paul and Barnabas are at the end of their missionary journey. Barnabas has believed in Paul this entire time, even when no one else did, and Paul is proving himself time and time again.

In the beginning of chapter 14 this dynamic duo is in Iconium, although they have success here, there are many people that resist their message. Instead of going somewhere they feel more appreciated, “they remained there for a long time” (Acts 14:3). They don’t give up!

It continues in verse 19, Paul and Barnabas are now in Lystra and Paul heals a crippled man who has never been able to walk. People are amazed and think that the men are gods. When Paul corrects them, they get so upset that they stone him and drag him out of the city. Can you even imagine that? Just when it seems like it’s completely over, the disciples go to help Paul and he gets up, and the next day walks back into the city!

That’s what this whole chapter is about: perseverance in opposition. Like Paul and Barnabas, we too can follow God and persevere even when we don’t think we have the strength to. Even after all this they encouraged fellow believers “saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). I pray that we can all have the courage to push through even our hardest tribulations.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

 

-Grace Rodgers

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Don’t Look Back

Acts 13 38

Acts 13 

Isn’t that what this is all about? The best gift – freedom and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. People had been waiting for him for years and now they were finally preaching about it, sharing the good news. Could you imagine being alive back then and reading the stories from the prophets and then finally hearing about Jesus? People had been talking, speculating, doubting, waiting, and anticipating him for YEARS. It is such a confirmation to our faith, it would be impossible not to talk about it!

In Acts 13, Saul, who is now called Paul, is on a mission to proclaim the gospel and he is not looking back. It’s crazy to think about the person he was just a few chapters ago. He is a great example of how we should approach our own missions. We die to ourselves, find our identity in Christ, and don’t look back. We have a lot to proclaim and not a lot of time, so worrying about who we once were will only hinder us!

-Grace Rodgers

Don’t Oppose God

Acts 12 24

Acts 12

“But the word of God increased and multiplied.” Acts 12:24

In this chapter we see a showdown between Herod and God. Not Herod the Great who was in power when Jesus was born, but Herod’s grandson who is also named Herod. I know, confusing.

Here is a summary of the showdown and the ways God showed His power time and time again:

  1. Herod kills James (v. 2) -> angel of the Lord kills Herod by having him eaten by worms. (v. 23)

  1. Herod throws Peter in jail (v. 4). -> angel of the Lord frees Peter (v. 7)

  1. Herod seeks Peter and orders him to be put to death (v. 19) -> God protects Peter (v. 16)

  1. Herod doesn’t give glory to God (v. 23) -> The word of God increases and multiplies (v.24)

So what’s the point? I think it’s pretty simple – if you oppose God, you lose. Even if you are part of the most powerful empire on earth, have all the resources and money in the world, nothing can come close to the power of God.

-Grace Rodgers

The Movement Spreads

acts 11 23

Acts 11

“When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” Acts 11:23

In chapter 8, Stephen was stoned and the Christians were persecuted and dispersed all over the land. In chapter 10, Peter preached and through his message broke down the walls between the Jews and Gentiles. Chapter 11 gives us the next story in this Christian movement.

As we talked about earlier, after the Christians had been scattered, they never stop talking about their God and the good news. Some of the Greek-speaking believers travel to Antioch to tell them about Jesus. It says the “Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”

News of this great movement spread and they decide to send Barnabas to Antioch to check it out. When he gets there he “saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them to all remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:23).

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all say this? If we could all see the grace of God and be glad? That would be incredible, so how did it happen for them in Antioch? Well, I think it was their persecution turned into praise. Turmoil turned into transformation. Sorrow turned into salvation.

Even with God’s grace, people still suffer, but that doesn’t mean that God is pushing you away, it could just mean he’s trying to get you to a place to serve Him better. 

-Grace Rodgers

Breakthrough

acts 10 44 (1)

Acts 10 

“While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.” Acts 10:44

In this chapter, God is moving more than ever. Peter is being used as a tool in God’s plan and everything is falling into place. Peter gives a sermon at the end of the chapter that is so powerful, the Holy Spirit falls on everyone there, even the Gentiles.

 Just before, Peter says, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts10:34). He understood God doesn’t show favoritism; it didn’t matter who you were, Jew or Gentile, as long as you feared God, you were accepted by Him. Peter had no idea what was about to happen. No idea that everyone in that room was about to confess that God is Lord, no idea that they would be speaking in tongues and wanting to be baptized.

God wants to use us as His tool just like Peter. The same spirit of God that lived in Peter, lives in us. God had to work in Peter’s heart and mind before He could work through him though. The same is true for us, God has to work in us before He can work through us, and that should be our prayer today and every day.

-Grace Rodgers

Conversion for All

Acts 9 5 (1)

Acts 9 

Saul is the worst kind of person. In our human eyes, he is completely undeserving of love, grace and patience. We would have tried to avoid him at all costs. I­n this chapter we see a true miracle happen, Saul becomes a person we don’t recognize anymore, and God does it all to show us how much he loves us.

To understand this further let’s read what Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15-16:

“though formally I was a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example”

What he means by this is that God had you in mind when he redeemed Paul. He showed his “mercy”, “perfect patience” and “overflowing grace” so that we can take hope for our own salvation and the salvation of others even when it seems like there is no hope at all. God changed Paul suddenly and without warning; Paul wasn’t preparing his heart or life to accept God, it just happened.

 This is a perfect illustration of Jesus’ suffering done for you. Saul persecutes the name of Jesus and rebels against God for YEARS. He abuses, mocks, and tears-down everything that God had built up. Jesus asks him in verse 4, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul doesn’t have an answer but drops everything to listen to the voice of Jesus.

 God chose Paul way before Paul chose God.

 The same love that God showed Paul, He wants to show you even when you think you’re too angry, or are too far gone, or can’t be converted, or don’t think a loved one can be converted, or aren’t good enough, or aren’t strong enough, or don’t think He can do it, God can and will suddenly and unexpectedly move and with more mercy, patience, and grace than you ever thought possible.

Grace Rodgers

Hi all! I’m Grace! I live in Michigan and attend Garden Park Church of God.  I’m an Industrial and Graphic designer and you may recognize my work at FUEL, mid-west family camp or in various projects throughout the conference. When I’m not designing you may find me rock climbing, gardening, or giving piano lessons. I’m excited to spend this post-Easter week with you!

God Makes Persecution Serve His Mission

Acts 8 4 (1)

Acts 8

  

After the stoning of Stephen not only is there immense sadness and persecution, but Saul is now on fire to destroy the church. Christians are scattered all over Samaria and Saul is literally hunting them down. Even when it seems all hope is lost, they do NOT stop preaching the word. God makes persecution serve His mission.

 

The lesson here is not just that God turns setbacks into triumphs, but rather, when we as a church become comfortable, don’t face adversity, and get used to feeling safe, we become stagnant. We need that constant push to keep us in motion.

Persecution can obviously have harmful effects on the church, but prosperity, if not properly checked, can create even more devastation. We are constantly praying for comfort and that’s okay, but maybe we shouldn’t be afraid to pray for God to move even if it leads to persecution.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

 

Grace Rodgers