The Boldness of Paul {Acts 17}

11:30 PM

by Lisa Moore

Following along the line of thinking that, "Every boy should have a dog", when my son was six my husband and I agreed to let him have a puppy.  He picked out a little chihuahua mix that he fell in love with at first sight and named Biscuit.  That little dog has the heart of a lion.  You'll never convince him that he's not a 60 pound pit bull.  Whenever I see him standing his ground against another animal twice his size I can't help but admire his boldness.  That's the kind of boldness God wants us to have; especially when spreading the gospel.  And that's the same kind of boldness Paul had when preaching Christ to a Christ less culture.  

After leaving Philippi, Paul, Silas, and Timothy traveled to Thessalonica where Paul spent three Sabbaths preaching in the Jewish synagogue.  The Bible tells us that "some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a large number of the leading women."  (v. 4)  But some of the unbelieving Jews became jealous and incited a mob against the disciples causing Paul and Silas to have to slip away in the night to Berea.  There they were better received for these Jews "were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (v. 11)  And once again, many believed.  But upon hearing about the disciples continued preaching in Berea, the Jews in Thessalonica came there as well to stir up the crowds.  This time Paul was sent out alone to find safety in Athens.  And there he found himself in a city full of idols, facing a culture of people who worshiped at an altar with the inscription ,"TO AN UNKNOWN GOD", (v. 23)

Paul in his usual manner, began by "reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles and in the market place everyday with those who happened to be present.", (v.17).  While doing so, he encountered some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who wanted to hear more about these "strange things" Paul was bringing to their ears, so they invited him to speak at the Areopagus.  The Areopagus, also known as Mars Hill, was a meeting place for the Areopagus Court; the highest court in Greece.  It was also where the Athenians and foreign visitors used to "spend  their time in nothing more than telling or hearing something new.", (v. 21)  

The Athenians were known for their endless debates, and more than likely wanted Paul to speak just so they had something new to discuss and over analyze.  They considered his message amusing but nonsense.  They were idol worshippers who probably saw Paul as beneath them.  And in spite of all of this Paul, as his "spirit was being provoked within him", (v.16) used the opportunity to teach them about the one true God, and salvation through Christ Jesus. 

I admire the boldness of Paul.  Instead of focusing on the differences between them, he first found some common ground.  He appealed to the fact that like himself the Athenians were searching for truth, and were "very religious in all respects.", (v. 22).  He knew the truth they needed was God's truth and let nothing dissuade him from sharing the Good News.  He used persuasion and reason to persuade people of the truth of the Gospel, and was able to answer any questions they might throw his way because of his knowledge of God's Word and his complete submission to the Spirit.  He did nothing for his glory.  He didn't worry about his reputation or even his physically safety.  Paul was all about winning souls for Jesus.  In my own life there have been times when instead of sharing the Gospel, I remained silent.  Instead of standing in God's strength, I gave in to fear.  Fear of being ridiculed, rejected, or challenged.  Other times I've shared the Gospel too aggressively or pompously, looking down my nose at those who didn't agree with my beliefs or immediately want to reconcile themselves to God.   2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, "Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."  Paul was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, stoned, and even left for dead.  Through it all he never lost his faith, or his desire to please God in all he did.  I want that boldness.  I want the heart of a lion.  I want to be fearless in responding to God's calling in my life regardless of the circumstances.  I want to share the Gospel in a confident, loving, respectful way, with my focus far from my myself.  And on today of all days, I am so thankful for all of those that have sacrificed so that I have the freedom to do just that!  

Sandra Wyatt

Believe in the Lord Jesus - Scripture Saturday

11:00 PM

By Sandra Wyatt

Welcome to Scripture Saturday!  Today we continue our memorization of verses found in Acts with verses 16:30,31…

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Here is the amplified version:  “And he brought them out of the dungeon and said, ‘Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?’ And they answered, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, give yourself to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping, and you will be saved, and this applies both to you and your household as well.’”

The first part of this verse reads like a command: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ…” Give your self to Him…deny your self, and place your self in His hands, in His keeping. This is what we are required to DO. One must believe He is who He claims to be…

“but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

Believe in what He did for us on the Cross.

The second part of this verse says, “and you will be saved…”  This is Grace…the gift of God that we are righteous in His sight.  Salvation is by Grace alone, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8,9) Salvation has never been attained by being a good person, by going to church, or by being baptized.  Salvation comes only through the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have a blessed and precious day everyone!


Walking in Joyful Obedience {Acts 16}

11:00 PM

By Mari Sandoval

Today we continue to see the Missionary work of Paul and some of the disciples: “So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they continually increased in number day after day.” These people were faithful to their calling, (Acts 1:8) and nothing was going to stop them! The Holy Spirit continually encouraged and empowered them as they continued to spread the Word of Salvation!
As we read today’s chapter we find Paul trying to take the Gospel to certain locations, but we find our God in His sovereignty forbidding them to go there (16:6-10).  I mean, hasn’t God chosen to use His people to help lost learn the way of salvation? Why wouldn’t He allow them to go? But, they waited… their EARS were always eager to HEAR His voice for directions!

Then Paul had a vision, he saw this man from Macedonia appealing to him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (16:9). When we walk in obedience to Christ’s Commission, whether it is to talk with a lost neighbor or to a stranger we happen to meet here in town, or to cross cultural or national borders, we experience great joy as God is pleased to save some from their sins and bring them to His Saving Grace.  There is joy in when we walk in obedience to God’s sovereign call to proclaim the gospel, even if we don’t understand the circumstances at the moment! He ALWAYS has a Perfect Plan and Purpose!

When Paul got to Philippi (a city in eastern Macedonia), all he had to start with was a small group of women who had gathered to pray : “ and on the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate to the bank of the [Gangites] river, where we thought there would be a [c]place of prayer, and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had come there.14 A woman named [d]Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in [e]purple fabrics who was [already] a worshiper of God, listened to us; …” (Acts 6:13-15)
How can you start a church with just a few women? Where were the men? But Paul faithfully spoke to them, God opened the heart of Lydia and of the rest of her family, and that is probably how the first church in Europe began!

Satan could not tolerate this happening here, so all of a sudden the disciples found opposition. In this case, it was a demon-possessed slave-girl who brought her owners much income through her ability to tell fortunes. This demon recognized Paul and his companions and cried out, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation” (16:17). This went on for many days, but finally Paul grew annoyed and cast the demon out of the girl. Now the girl’s owners had lost their source of income and they were furious, so they dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities, had them beaten and thrown into jail, where their feet were fastened into the stocks.

 "These stocks had more than two holes for legs, which could thus be forced apart in a such a way as to cause the utmost discomfort and cramping pain." (Bruce) But even in their pain, God was not far from Paul and Silas! "The legs feel nothing in the stocks when the heart is in heaven." (Tertullian) “But about midnight when Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;26 suddenly there was a great earthquake, so [powerful] that the very foundations of the prison were shaken and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.”(16:25-26)

Some people have the false idea that if we obey God we will be exempt from trials. But such an idea is never taught in the Bible. In these few chapters in the book of Acts we’ve seen how God’s obedient messengers suffered as they proclaimed the gospel. But Paul had joy in the midst of these circumstances. His joy came from a total surrender of loving-obedience and faith to our God! After all these painful circumstances our Father showed HE was still in charge! God used the earthquake and the testimony of these faithful disciples, to bring the jailer and his family to His Saving Grace!

When the jailer and all in his household believed, they all “rejoiced greatly” (16:34-36). This is the same joy our Father wants each and every one of us to experience with our families! So let us be of testimony as we witness to their lives in love and obedience to our God and He will one day “open their hearts to pay attention and to respond to the Gospel”. Amen to that!! 

After the jailer ministered to Paul and Silas, they returned to the prison, and were set free by the magistrates the next day. “40 So they left the prison and went to Lydia’s house; and when they had seen the brothers and sisters, they encouraged and comforted them, and left”.

 “Whenever people are genuinely saved, there is demonstrable evidence in their changed lives. Lydia and her household members who believed were baptized and then showed hospitality to Paul and his companions (16:14, 15). If the slave girl was converted, you can be sure that she abandoned her occult practices and joined with the other Christians in following the Lord. The jailer was delivered from suicide, washed the wounds of Paul and Silas, was baptized, and joyfully showed them hospitality (16:31-34). The gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16).” (Bible Org. Steven J. Cole)   Imagine all these people gathering in the days to come as a Church, sharing their testimonies with joy and praise!

But, what about you? Do you still remember the first day of your conversion to Christ and the joy you experimented? Are you still sharing that testimony to others so that they too, will know the joy that comes from being reconciled to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?  Some of us might have gone astray in our Walk with Jesus, instead of walking in obedience… but you know something? Our God is a God of Grace, and if you have lost your way and are willing to return to His paths… He is always willing to start over again! Isn’t that awesome?

Before I close: Remember, there is joy that comes from walking in obedience to His Great Commission!