What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What is Our Role in Spread of the Gospel? Acts 17

The question came to me while having my Quiet Time this morning. The reading was from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 with verse 8 saying, “For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you [Thessalonians], not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.” Paul had written to the Thessalonians, where he had established a church and where Timothy and Silas had stayed on to help the fledgling church mature, this letter of encouragement for them to keep doing what they had been doing. The account of Paul’s time with the Thessalonians is in Acts 17 (along with the accounts of his time in Berea and Athens).
In Thessalonica, Berea and Athens, Paul preached the gospel (starting in the synagogues) and got varying results. In Thessalonica there were many who came to Christ, but there was also a great amount of persecution from the non-believing Jews of the city. However, there were many believers as the result of Paul’s preaching. Paul continued his missionary journey, leaving Thessalonica before the mob could accost him and drag him before the judges of the city, and went to Berea. Paul again preached in Berea, starting in the synagogue. Acts 17:11-12 tells us what happened there:
Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.
Paul, due to the agitation and instigation of the Jews from Thessalonica, who had pursued Paul to Berea, left Berea and went to Athens. Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea (vs. 14) and continued teaching and preaching, but Paul’s message went on to another city, Athens.
In Athens, Paul preached in marketplaces and eventually, in front of the philosophers and scholars of Athens. The Athenians were much more reluctant to believe, and this probably discouraged Paul. Yet, he kept preaching and trying to spread the word of the Lord.
This brings us to the title question. What is our role in the spread of the gospel? Our role is to keep preaching no matter where God leads us. There may be tremendous success with many converts or there may be dismal effect with few coming to Christ. Either way, just like Paul, we are to spread the gospel message as best as we can. One commentator, Michael Fronczak, wrote: “Even if only a few believe, it’s worth the effort.” That seems to be the principle that Paul lived by.
We also, need to be sharing the gospel to those around us, whether there is good fruit or no fruit. The results of our sharing are in God’s hands. We do not save people; God does through the workings of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. Our job is to present the truth to others and give them hope for a better life and an eternity with the comfort of God. So, let’s share some aspect of Christ today with someone else. Whether it’s a smile at the grocery store showing kindness, or a full-fledged gospel presentation, the Holy Spirit can use us to proclaim the gospel to our world.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hallmarks of Conversion: Acts 16:11-40

In Acts 16 we read the story of Paul and Silas being miraculously loosed from their chains in the jail in Philippi. The jailer is ready to kill himself, fearing that the prisoners had escaped and that he would have to serve the punishment for all the escaped prisoners. However, Paul and Silas and all the other prisoners were still in the jail. They hadn’t left, so the jailer’s life was spared.
The jailer’s response was to ask Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” [vs. 30] The disciples responded with the gospel message: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved you and your household” [vs. 31]. And, that’s exactly what the jailer did and his whole household came to believe, also.
How do we know that the jailer believed? His behavior toward the disciples drastically changed. Where, on his first encounter with Paul and Silas, he had bound them with chains and thrown them in the innermost dungeon of the prison, he was now taking them home and taking care of their wounds and needs for nourishment [vs. 33]. One commentator, Barnes, said, “Often one of the most striking changes that occurs in conversions is seen in the disposition to be kind and humane to the suffering.” There was also a cross-reference to James 1:22 which says, “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
So I asked myself the following questions: How am I doing in these areas? What opportunities have I let slip by? I can think of times in my past where I’ve cared for the needs of others, those suffering in some way, but I couldn’t think of anything current. I decided to pray for opportunities. As of writing this, I still have not seen any opportunities to directly help orphans and widows, but I have been able to contribute to the finances of our church as they have reached out to ministries in Haiti that work with orphans. I plan on praying more for those ministries this year. And, I’ll keep praying for the eyes to see where there is suffering and how I can help relieve it in the lives of people I come into contact with.