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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JOY!

Acts 13-16

acts 16 joy

Friday, June 9

I love listening to missionary stories.  I love hearing how bold men and women have carried the good news of God’s love and plan of salvation to others, sometimes meeting with great success, eager ears, and saved lives, while other times being faced with disappointment, ridicule, shunning or great danger.  The book of Acts delivers all this and more as the great missionary Paul along with Silas, Barnabas, John Mark and others worked tirelessly to teach, preach, baptize and encourage churches and individuals through many towns and countries – growing the Kingdom of God.

One word that caught my attention in these chapters was JOY.  Acts 13:52 records, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”  Sounds great, doesn’t it!!   Things must have been going very well for our faithful missionaries to be experiencing such JOY.  But, wait, what were the verses just previous . . . “But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city.  They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.  So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.” (13:50-51).  Trials, persecutions, and hardships, being expelled, cast out – these can easily bring up lots of human emotions.  Anger, rage, depression, hopelessness, fatigue, giving up.  But instead it says the disciples were filled with JOY – and with the Holy Spirit.  That is the joy that I want to have.   A deep joy that comes not from everything going as planned, but from knowing you are doing the Father’s Will – even when it is hard, even when it hurts.  A joy that comes hand in hand with His Holy Spirit.

 

JOY is used again in Acts 16:34 – this time at a truly JOYOUS occasion.  “The jailer…was filled with JOY because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.”  Can you imagine the scene – middle of the night, jailer hears singing from the cell as Paul and Silas praise God and pray.  Then – EARTHQUAKE!!!!  Prison doors thrown open and the jailer prepares to kill himself, since he would be executed if any of his prisoners ever escaped, and what prisoners wouldn’t escape if the prison doors were thrown open.  But then a shout is heard, “Don’t harm yourself!  We are all here!”” (16:28).  The astounded jailer needs to know more about these men and the Jesus they profess.  Paul and Silas gladly teach – and baptize – the changed jailer and his family.  The jailer takes them into his home and gives the missionaries a meal.  And there is JOY.  The baptism of a new believer is certainly one of the most joyful events.  But, what events were necessary to proceed this baptism?  In this particular case, the jailer would not have heard the gospel message if it weren’t for several catastrophes and trials: an earthquake, a mob attacking Peter & Silas (because they had healed a slave girl) which led to them being stripped and severely beaten and thrown in jail.  And, even then, if Peter and Silas had reacted differently to these crisis situations (perhaps with anger and selfishness rather than with praise and joy), the jailer would most likely have committed suicide instead of asking how to be saved.

I don’t know what you are going through today.  But, how can you face it with praise and joy and the Holy Spirit?  It just might lead to the saving of a life – maybe your own, and maybe somebody else’s.

 

-Marcia Railton

 

 

He’s Not Finished With You Yet

Jeremiah 46-49

Jer 46

Tuesday, March 14

These four chapters chronicle how Nebuchadnezzar and his armies defeated many different nations. It’s easy to get lost in all the war talk, but there is a little gem near the beginning of this passage on which I want to focus today. Check out chapter 46, verses 27-28 (from The Message):
“But you, dear Jacob my servant, you have nothing to fear.

    Israel, there’s no need to worry.
Look up! I’ll save you from that far country,
    I’ll get your children out of the land of exile.
Things are going to be normal again for Jacob,
    safe and secure, smooth sailing.
Yes, dear Jacob my servant, you have nothing to fear.
    Depend on it, I’m on your side.
I’ll finish off all the godless nations
    among which I’ve scattered you,
But I won’t finish you off.
    I have more work left to do on you.
I’ll punish you, but fairly.
    No, I’m not finished with you yet.”

Israel was God’s chosen people, and their future looked uncertain. However, God would not let their whole race perish! He still had great plans for Israel, and many prophecies to fulfill through them (SPOILER ALERT: including the birth of His Son, Jesus!). God is giving a reminder to his beloved children Israel that he’s got their back. Yes, he reminds them that they will be punished (fairly), but he clarifies to them, “I’m not finished with you yet.”

Even though these words were spoken to Israel and not specifically to us (though as believers in Christ we have been grafted into God’s family), I still like to take that promise to heart and remember that God is not finished with us yet. He wants to work in and through us to accomplish his will! I don’t know about you, but I want to leave a legacy for God – I don’t want the work he’s done in and through me to ever be finished! I want to teach others about God and his grace so they can grow to know and serve Him too, and therefore continue the work of spreading the gospel. I don’t have to be famous (in fact, as an introvert, I would prefer NOT to be famous!), but I want to leave a legacy from this life that will continue to grow God’s Kingdom long after I am gone… don’t you?
Philippians 1:6 – “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 
Pray and consider how you will leave a legacy. We are all called to be missionaries everywhere we go, every day in every way – at home, school, work, community, and beyond. Ask God to show you in what ways He is “not finished with you yet” so you can serve him every day in every way with your whole heart!
-Rachel Cain
(Photo Credit: http://www.quotescodex.com/p.php?author=jeremiah+46:27)