Acts #58, Acts chapter 17.1-15
I have gotten the text messages,
the painful prayer requests...my son just deployed;
my daughter may lose her job unless she gets
vaccinated--she is concerned about fertility.
I know the mother, the daughter and the son and this tears me up. Signs of the times? Most certainly.
I am not unaware of the evil our American government is signing off on~ indiscriminate abortions at the top of the list.
There is Covid--what is its origin anyway...and the variants? Deceit, vaccines and divisiveness, masks, personal pronoun picking, AFGHAnistan, and Haiti, for goodness sake! How to keep our heads up, how to move forward into each day with trust in God, rather than fear of such an unknown future.
As we are reading in the book of Acts, difficult days are nothing new, particularly for Christians. Jesus himself said "In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!1
And we do not grow a deep trust in God without tough times; trials signal us to cry out to God in prayer ... and God hears us in our despair, comes and answers our prayers. Our faith increases and accordingly, our influence for him, which leads me back to Paul in Acts chapter 17.
^^The young missions team of Paul, Silas and Timothy travels further into Europe to Amphipolis and Apollonia, and on to Thessalonica, the bustling capital city of Macedonia, about 200,000 in population.
Paul again starts preaching in the synagogue where a number of folks respond to the gospel, which riles up some of the unbelieving Jews. Their jealousy compels them to go to the officials with the accusation that the missionaries are causing trouble, and teaching people that there is another king besides Caesar - a charge of treason at the time, a charge that the Roman officials would not ignore.
The team slips away to Berea, where the folks are a little more gracious. They not only receive the gospel message, but also check the Scriptures for themselves to see if what Paul said was true--that Jesus is the exact fulfillment of the prophecies about which they're teaching. Paul preaches the truth of the gospel and backs it up with persuasive proofs - a powerful combination! However, good will is not to last in Berea either, because when the Thessalonians hear what is happening in Berea, they go there and set about agitating the crowds. Once again, Paul is hustled out of town, escorted safely by several men to Athens.^^ [Acts 17.1-15, summary]. On to Greece!
Just what kind of man was Paul, that we would know him by a single name 2000 years later?! Extraordinary, to be sure. In order to do the things he did, face the opposition he did, continue on in spite of the suffering and pain, walk hundreds of thousands of miles2, and then write 30 percent of the New Testament, Paul had to be totally sold out and fully surrendered to Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, he trusted God completely and stayed the course, no matter the difficulties.
So, I ask myself, 'am I totally surrendered to Jesus, willing to go his way rather than mine?' Hmmm. . . how about you? Having had this discussion with others, I've heard people say--especially men, "it is really hard for me to surrender myself totally to the Lord--I mean, I'm almost there, but not quite."
In order to entertain the notion of 'surrender', you have to know 'why' surrender is not just a good idea, but it is right, it is desirable. After all, we are talking about surrender to God. . . making all of who we are available
to our Creator, Savior, Sustainer,
Shepherd, Purpose-Giver, Friend.
Jesus is the only one who will never leave you on your own--
the one who will vindicate every wrong that has been done to you
the one who makes a way for you in the desert and
the source of true Joy. Want more? I could go on.
Let me ask you then, why wouldn't you surrender to God? The only reason is because you are just not that into him or you don't really trust Him. To which I say, if the first is you - well, there ain't nothin I can do about that; but if it is that you don't really trust him, you don't really understand very much about him . . . you have totally underestimated my Jesus, especially how wildly he loves you.
So, I think some thinking and soul searching is in order, my friend,
well--unless you are okay with mediocrity.
Paul was totally surrendered to God... for that reason, God used him mightily. For that reason, Paul left a legacy that we will draw from forever. I wanna be a Paul, no matter the cost. ‘You? You can change your legacy today to be one of a life poured out in faith to point others to God. Join me?
You are meant to play a role in this crazy time in history.
With all that is going on in the world, our legacy matters like never before.
At a time when people are casting about, desperately looking for hope, looking for someone to trust, looking for a way forward, we have the opportunity to point others to Christ, to connect them to true hope.
This song, oh this song: My Jesus - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW5o2uBeMWQ&list=RDFW5o2uBeMWQ&start_radio=1&rv=FW5o2uBeMWQ&t=16
Be like Paul!
1 - Matthew 16.33
2 - Scholars estimate between 7200 and 10,000 miles walked by Paul