Do Not Be Silent

Acts 18 

May 6

Paul leaves Athens and arrives in Corinth at the start of Acts 18. Paul meets Priscilla and Aquila and works with them as tentmakers in Corinth. Paul visits the synagogue and tries to appeal to the Jews and Greeks. He was reviled in the synagogue and then shakes out his garments and declares that he will only speak to the Gentiles. Even with the ruler of the synagogue being converted he still faces danger in the city. 

Paul had been chased from the towns of Thessalonica, Derea, and Iconium. I am sure Paul must have been wondering if this was his time to get chased from this city as well. The anxiety of knowing that in every new city he came to there was a chance of being thrown out of it and physical harm coming to him would have been a lot to bear. 

God comes to Paul in a vision. God giving Paul this vision is an act of grace towards Paul. God is trying to comfort Paul and give him direction. God starts out with the simple statement of “Do not be afraid”. This feels a lot like Joshua 1.9. God gives Paul two more commands; Go on speaking and do not be silent. Paul has probably realized that most of his trouble befalls him when he speaks and he is not silent. The same thing is true of me except it normally isn’t because I’m preaching the gospel. God gives three commands and the unique thing about this vision is God also gives Paul three reasons why he should do those things. 

We have plenty of commands of God and God very often gives us the reasons why we should follow his command. Sometimes we aren’t willing to look hard enough for the reasons but there are almost always reasons. Sometimes we won’t find out the reasons until later or maybe we find out the reasons why in the kingdom. There is an element of faith in following Christ. 

God’s reasons for why Paul should obey his commands are that God is with him. God being with you may result in a kind of fearlessness. God’s next reason why is that no one will attack Paul to harm him. This statement must have relieved a lot of anxiety from Paul. God’s third reason why is that God has many in this city. 

God makes good on his promises to Paul. In verses 12-17 Paul is brought before the proconsul of Achaia, the ruler of that region, by the Jewish rulers and the new ruler of the synagogue. He is accused of persuading people to worship God contrary to the law. Just as Paul was about to speak the proconsul says that because it is a quarrel about words and there is no wrongdoing that he refuses to rule on this. The proconsul drives all of Paul’s accusers away. The mob that had formed ends up beating the new ruler of the synagogue, one of Paul’s enemies, in front of the proconsul. 

When we follow God’s lead and direction it will put us into positions where we get to see God work in situations. This situation for Paul worked out well for him. He didn’t even need to do anything to get out of the situation. He relied on God and God worked it out. The proconsul responded in his favor before Paul spoke. God was clearly at work in this situation because after that his enemy, the ruler of the synagogue, ended up being killed by the mob. His enemy was killed by the people who had originally intended to kill him. 

When we join God in what He is doing we will see this provision for us as well. There will be suffering and some pain but there will also be moments where we get to see God do God things and experience Him through those events. That’s part of what makes Christianity so exciting, fulfilling and awesome. 

-Daniel Wall

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Can you think of a time you didn’t speak up for God, perhaps because of fear or discomfort? What promises of God might you have missed out on with that failed opportunity?
  2. When have you had the pleasure of “see(ing) God do God things and experience(ing) Him through those events”
  3. What can we learn from Apollos and Priscilla and Aquila later in this chapter?

God Did All This

Acts 17

May 5

Paul starts out in Acts chapter 17 arriving in Thessalonica and speaking in the synagogues for 3 Sabbaths. He proclaims that Jesus needed to suffer and be raised from the dead. The Jews corner Paul and he is forced to leave the city after paying the officials. Paul and Silas depart for Berea. The Berean Jews listen to him and study to see if what he is saying is true and many of them believed. The Jews from Thessalonica find out Paul is in Berea and come after him there.

Paul is immediately sent away by the brothers in Berea and Paul arrives in Athens. Paul doesn’t take a break while in Athens. Paul seeing the city full of idols almost can’t help himself. Paul starts going into the marketplace and reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue and preaching to them about Jesus resurrected. They bring Paul to the Areopagus, a court of philosophy, and Paul launches into one of the most cultured speeches or sermons in the New Testament.

Paul starts out with the general declaration that God has made everything in v.24. God doesn’t live in a temple, made of human hands. He instead dwells within all of us. This is in abstraction to all the gods of Athens who needed a temple, a place for them to dwell. Our God when a house is built for him it was only supposed to represent God’s presence with his nation, Israel. It was a symbol for his people.

Paul makes his third statement about God’s sovereignty in v. 25. He doesn’t need us to serve him. For there is nothing that he needs from us that he can’t do for himself.  He instead involves us and allows us to serve him for our own good. Our service to God is a matter of grace from God to us. It is letting us love him back. We are like children using the money mommy gave us to buy something for daddy.

Paul then makes a statement about the whole world’s dependence on God. He says that God gives to us life, breath and everything. Life: many of you may think of this as coming from your mom and dad; but as at least some of you may know, pregnancy is a miracle in and of itself. Either way God gave you your life. Have you had any enjoyment in it? Praise God because he gave it to you. Breath: God has provided you the air in your lungs right now and all the air you have ever used. He gave you the air you used to praise him and the air you used to sin against him. Everything: Everything you have ever interacted with – like that piece of cake or your mama. He made all that as well.

Verse 26 says that God providentially gave to each a time and a place. Verse 27 Tells us exactly why he did this. He gave us our time, place, life, breath, and everything that we have and everyone we love that we would SEEK Him and FIND Him. This statement is so significant if we look at it from Paul’s audience’s perspective. God made everything and gave everything, that we would find Him. He did it, so it would point us to Him.

The good things that he gives to non-Christians and the good things he gave to us, when we didn’t love him, were all done for us that we would seek and find Him.

We are going to skip down to verse 30. Paul tells us he has overlooked our ignorance and is telling them to repent and that he will judge the world by a righteous man. Paul then says that we have assurance of this because Christ was raised from the dead.

This is the third time in this chapter Paul talks about Christ’s resurrection. Christ’s resurrection is paramount to the Christian faith. If Christ isn’t raised we have nothing. His resurrection gives us Christ in us and God in Christ and therefore God in all of us. By his resurrection, not just his death, we are justified (Romans 4.25).

-Daniel Wall

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How can you be more mindful of all that God has made and done for you today?
  2. How will you seek Him?
  3. Who do you know who still needs to hear about and know the “unknown God”? How can you introduce them?
  4. What does Christ’s resurrection mean to you?

Staying Where God Wants You

Acts 16

May 4

In Chapter 15 Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement and they end up parting ways. Paul ends up taking Silas and departing on Paul’s second missionary journey and goes back to Derbe and Lystra, where Paul had been stoned on his first missionary journey (read Monday’s devotion for the details on that). In Chapter 16 Paul and Silas revisit some of the cities of Turkey that Paul had previously visited and Paul is forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach in the rest of Asia (which includes the western part of Turkey). Paul is then visited in a vision by the Macedonian man. The man from Macedonia asks Paul to come over to Macedonia. Paul and Silas then immediately seek to go to Macedonia believing God called them to preach there. 

In the city of Phillipi there was a slave girl, who had a spirit of divination. This spirit had caused the owners of the girl to profit by fortune telling. This spirit had caused her to follow Paul and Silas and cry out in a loud voice. Paul heals this girl. Her owners become angry because they can no longer profit off her fortune telling. They have Paul and Silas imprisoned. 

Paul’s behavior in this chapter is definitely weird. Paul, a missionary to Gentiles, goes through all these Turkish towns, Gentile towns, and doesn’t preach the gospel to them. This is a man who won’t let a stoning stop him from preaching the Gospel but walks through all these cities without speaking a word. Paul was truly led, guided, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel. It says that in verse 7 that the spirit of Jesus didn’t let them preach in those regions. 

The next extremely weird behavior in this chapter happens in this prison scene(v.25-40). Some of you may remember in Acts 5 when Peter is imprisoned and an angel opens the doors of the prison and sets him free. What happens to Paul and Silas is similar except for a couple of details. There is an earthquake that sets all the prisoners free but instead of leaving the prison Paul and Silas stay (v.26). Actually they do something even more radical than just staying in prison; they keep all the other prisoners from leaving the prison (v.28). 

Pretend, you are imprisoned for preaching the gospel. Imprisoned with no privacy, no family and no wifi. Also you are imprisoned with people who have actually committed crimes. Probably not a low security facility either. I am talking about the type of crimes that make Law and Order. So, you survive the first day and there is an earthquake and you and all the prisoners can escape. You decide not to leave and also decide to keep all the actual criminals inside the prison as well. Does this sound like something you would do? No, me neither. 

When the jailer awakes and sees all the doors open for the cells he pulls out his sword and is about to kill himself when Paul yells out that the prisoners were still there (v.27). Remember the jailer is the guy that is supposed to keep you in prison. The jailer killing himself means that you could leave. The jailer killing himself would be very advantageous to you, as someone in prison. The jailer was going to kill himself because that was the only honorable move for a Roman soldier after presumably losing all his prisoners. 

Paul must have been completely and totally reliant on God’s spirit through this for leading, guidance, and power. Immediately after this Paul is given the opportunity to preach to the jailer and he and his family were baptized that night. 

At many points during this Paul could have just escaped; he could have escaped right after the earthquake or let the jailer kill himself. Paul decided to stay in his prison cell. Even when it would have been easy for him to get out of that situation; Paul decided to stay where God had put him. He did this throughout his missionary journeys. Paul continually decides to stay where God wants him. Even when it is to his own physical harm or it could lead to his death he continually decides to stay. 

If we decide to go with God we could end up in similar positions. Positions where harm to us is possible to us whether physical, or mental. We, like Paul, have to decide whether to stay where God puts us or is leading us or go our own way. Our own way is so much easier and is almost guaranteed to involve less pain (at least for the moment).

Paul stayed though. He stayed where God wanted him. 

His reward … bringing a whole family to know God and His Son Jesus.

-Daniel Wall

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Have you ever felt God wanted you to stay in a difficult situation? If you did stay, what were some positive blessings that came as a result – for you and/or others?
  2. Why is the easy path not always the best?
  3. After reading Acts 16, what are some adjectives you would use to describe Paul? Which of those adjectives could also be used to describe you? Which is not a strength for you, but something you would like to develop more? How so?

Led by the Holy Spirit

Acts 15

May 3

Acts 15 is a chapter of disagreements. Our first disagreement comes within the larger church and is about the rules for Gentiles regarding circumcision. Some of the church had been instructing new Gentiles to be circumcised and debate arose amongst the apostles and elders. Paul, Peter and James all make statements that are recorded in this chapter.

I’m going to bring up a couple of highlights from this chapter that may or may not be related. In verse 8 the marker that Peter uses that Gentiles are now welcome to the family of God is that the Gentiles recieved the Holy Spirit, the same way that the Jews did. The Holy Spirit being a marker for Gentiles is a significant statement about how critical the Holy Spirit is to Christianity. This statement shows that the apostles had a high view of the Holy Spirit.

At McGintytown we are currently revising our constitution. If any of you have been a part of one of these committees you know how much work it is. One of the questions that gets brought up is how much power should each individual person or group have over the church. Acts 15 is an interesting case study of this because of the scope of the decision being made. The decision the apostles and elders are making for Gentiles is going to affect ALL Gentiles. The apostles and elders are representing God for his people.

In verse 28 we have the reason provided for this decision. The apostles told the Gentiles that it seemed good to them and the Holy Spirit. If I were them I would want some sort of lighting bolt or some Gideon like signs or maybe having God rewind time like he did for Hezekiah. The apostles and elders feel good imposing only four rules on the Gentiles.

How could the apostles be so confident that they were doing what God wants? In Dallas Willard’s Hearing God he presents the idea that the same way that you may know what a friend or spouse or boss would want done in a situation, that as we progress in our spiritual lives, that we should know what God wants. This is why having a daily progressing relationship with God is so important. It is impossible to know what God would want if we don’t know God. This doesn’t mean God won’t continue to speak to us, it just means that we don’t need to be paralyzed by decisions. That is as long as you feel you know what God would want.

We encounter situations that the Bible doesn’t necessarily give us a direct command about. As long as we are spending time with God and have a sense of where he is leading us we don’t need to wait for some miraculous sign to make a decision. Being led by the spirit doesn’t mean having to pray what cereal to eat, what route to take to work or how to handle work decisions. We can lean in to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and proceed.

-Daniel Wall

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. In this chapter, what can we learn about handling disagreements that arise in the church? Consider how they handled the question of circumcision as well as the debate over John also called Mark.
  2. How do you tend to handle disagreements? What can you put into practice next time?
  3. Would you consider yourself more Spirit led, or self led? What’s the difference? When making decisions and living your life, how important is it to you to be doing what God wants? How do you work at knowing what He wants?

Unstoppable Courage

Acts 14

May 2

Paul and Barnabas continue on their first missionary trip in Acts 14. They continue on land through modern day Turkey making stops in various cities through the region. Paul’s first missionary journey goes through the island of Cyprus and then goes to Turkey. Paul returns the same way that he came except he bypasses a stop at Cyprus on his way home. 

In Iconium an attempt was made by some Gentiles and Jews to stone Paul and Barnabas, they fled for Lystra and this is where their lives start to get interesting. Paul and Barnabas are hailed as gods because they heal a crippled man. After Paul addresses them with a beautiful statement about the general revelation of God to the Gentiles in v.17, the people who had attempted to stone him in Iconium find him in Lystra.

The Jews from Iconium find Paul and drag him out of the city and stone him. We can’t really completely understand what it is like to be stoned while trying to preach the gospel. The experience of being hit with stones on your body and head from many people until they think there is no way you are alive is unfathomable for us. The purpose of a stoning was to kill a person. It is completely a miracle by the grace and love of God that Paul survived this attack.

Paul’s friends come to him. We must assume that this is hours after Paul is stoned and left for dead because if the Jews had seen his friends Paul’s friends probably would have been stoned. Paul endures this stoning more than likely by himself.

Paul’s legend grows here. After his friends gather around Paul he goes back into the city, where all the danger would have been. If you get beaten so badly that people think you are dead it would take a few days(probably weeks) to recover. The next day Paul goes to another city to preach the gospel. We see in this incident Paul living out Philippians 4.13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Paul demonstrates an enormous strength just continuing on the next day.

Paul’s example of strength and boldness didn’t stop here. Paul after preaching in Derbe returns to the city he was just stoned outside of to encourage those disciples. Then he goes to the city where the people who stoned him lived and strengthened the disciples there. Paul’s lack of regard for his own safety is by all measures of today reckless. Paul demonstrated that he found more value in strengthening his disciples than in his own safety. Paul believed that he could do and make it through whatever lies ahead because God’s spirit was strengthening him.

The first thing to take away from Paul in these incidents is Paul did not stop. I think too many people walk around setting artificial limits on themselves. We don’t face our problems thinking I have Christ in me and God’s spirit strengthening me. When problems arise my first thought is maybe I should take a break. There is power available in God’s spirit that lives within us (Acts 1.8).

The second take away from Paul in Acts 14 is courage. I think Paul’s courage came from his death to himself. Paul’s motto was to live is Christ and death is gain. When death is viewed as gain and you lack fear of it, being courageous is much simpler. For Paul’s own words on this subject read Philippians 1.18-26.

-Daniel Wall

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What limiter are you putting on yourself that God didn’t put there?
  2. Are you depending upon God’s spirit working in you for strength in your life?
  3. In what areas of your life are you living for yourself and therefore lack courage?
  4. Do you believe Paul was made of the same dust of the ground that you are?

Death

Acts 13

May 1

As a pastor, I try my best to get out and visit the sick and elderly. I feel a constant tension when visiting an elderly or really sick person that I want to pray for their healing but I also acknowledge that everyone I know will, probably, die. I have had people in my life who are Christians die at an old age. Many people would comment that when a person has grown old and had a full life that death was more acceptable.

There is something in our minds that feels better when a person grows old and has experienced all of life and then dies. We say that they have lived a full life.

In our chapter of the day Paul is being sent out on his first missionary journey. He is sent out by the elders of the Antioch church and he makes a significant statement about death. He is asked to give a word of encouragement in the synagogue in Pisidia. As a side note, I love how Paul is geared up and just already has something on his heart to share with this group. As the text reads Barnabas and Paul are asked and then Paul just stands up and goes. As someone who preaches most Sundays I love the idea of no outline, just God speaking to you and you speaking to people. Paul was a man who was hooked up to the well and out flowed the things that God put there.

Now back to get back on track … Acts 13.36 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption”

Paul says something implicitly about life that could be helpful for us. Paul says that David dies after he had served his purpose to God. Essentially after he had done what God wanted him to do David died. For some people this may seem like harsh treatment by God to his servant. Why wouldn’t God give David a long good life after how David served him? David gave his life to God. Shouldn’t God give David a retirement package? You know like 20 years where David could do what he wanted or do the things he hadn’t gotten to do because he was busy serving God.

I don’t think David was just living for the Kingdom. I think David’s primary motivation in this life was the glory of God. Once David had done what he was supposed to do for that purpose he died. You see this in elderly people quite often. As long as they have a purpose in life they continue to live but often when that purpose is removed their health tends to deteriorate. This could be part of how God made us.

I think we undervalue how great it is that we serve God according to a purpose that he gives to us. Purpose in this verse could also mean plan. God has had a plan for the world of redeeming it and glorifying it and making it new. The same way he has started this work of making things new by resurrecting Jesus and then started the process of making us new by giving us new hearts. We get to take part in God’s plan and purpose for this world that is millennium old and ends with everything made new and God properly glorified.

It feels all too fitting that once we have fulfilled our role in God’s purpose and plan that we would die. The intended purpose for our lives is God’s glory (Isaiah 43.7). It feels proper and good that when we fulfill our intended purpose that we would pass away whether that is young or old or somewhere in between.

I am not trying to be insensitive to people who have lost friends or family members young. I know that hurts and I’m sorry if you have. I’m trying/ hoping to reconcile life and death as a Christian.

-Daniel Wall

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What do you think God’s purpose was in David’s life? In Barnabas’s life? In Saul/Paul’s life? In yours?
  2. How might God be preparing for you to serve Him? Where to go? Who to talk to? What words to speak? How can you prepare yourself for what He wants you to do?

Peter was Sleeping!

Acts 12

April 30

Acts 12:6 – The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.

Have you ever been so excited about something that is scheduled for the next day that you couldn’t sleep? Or something that you were dreading that made sleep impossible?

Imagine for a moment that you were scheduled to be executed in the morning for a crime that you didn’t commit. Do you think that sleep would come easily?

I would probably not sleep a wink and yet, we read in Acts chapter twelve that this is exactly what Peter was doing. And to make the situation even more uncomfortable, he was sleeping bound with chains, to a man on his right and another man on his left. 

How was Peter able to rest so soundly the night before his scheduled death that an angel of the Lord had to strike him to wake him up?!?

This is what trusting in the Lord looks like. This is what peace that passes all understanding looks like. This is what believing in God beyond your current circumstances looks like. 

Peter had every reason to believe that he was going to be next on Herod’s list of disciples put to the sword. But Peter also had every reason to believe that the same God who rescued Daniel from the lions’ den was more than capable of rescuing him from barracks guarded by four sentries. 

The next time you are facing circumstances that appear beyond your control, remember that you serve a God who positioned a young shepherd boy to slay a giant with a slingshot, who parted the waters of the Red Sea and closed them back up again, who caused the lame to walk and the blind to see. And if God is capable of doing that…He is capable of seeing you through your trials too. 

Believe and do not doubt.

-Bethany Ligon

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1 Is there a time when you were in a super stressful situation, but you were able to experience peace beyond understanding that comes from God? Thank God for His peace and presence. How can this be a part of your testimony of God’s greatness?

2. When sleep doesn’t come and you feel anxious or worried or stressed – what would God, or Peter, suggest you fill your mind with?

3. What happened to Herod? Why?

Traveling Encouragers

Acts 11

April 29

Acts 11:23 – When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

The second half of Acts chapter 11 emphasizes the importance of fellowship; and not just with other believers who are in our local communities, but with those who are separated by a significant distance. 

Living in Arizona, our state hosts thousands of retirees who migrate south for the winter. Being a member of Lakeshore Bible Church of God, I often see a small fraction of that migration as other members of the General Conference travel south during this season as they spend a few weeks or perhaps months escaping the brutal cold. It is always an encouragement to see them, talk with them, and of course exchange a hug or two. 

Our Conference offers multiple opportunities to gather with fellow COGgers throughout the year; Christian Workers Seminar (happening next week), to the Young Adult Getaway, Family Camp, other state and conference camps (happening in June), FUEL (in July) and the annual General Conference (in August). And I can’t forget to mention the reFUEL and Refuge events that take place in the fall and winter. 

At any one of these events, we have the opportunity to be like Barnabas and Saul, visiting out of state with one another, catching up with friends, meeting new acquaintances, studying God’s Word together, worshiping side by side, praying for and with each other, and of course…sharing meals! 😉

It is so important to invest in your local church. But just as valuable is investing your time and energy gathering with other like-minded believers who live a significant distance away. We are family and family needs one another. 

Because I live in the southwest, I do not have the opportunities to visit with you all on a regular basis, so maybe this devotional message is more for me than it is for you. But I LOVE seeing you all whenever I get the chance. YOU inspire me. YOU challenge me. YOU teach me. YOU accept me. And that is what family is all about. 

I hope that you have the chance to take advantage of one or more of our summer events this year. You WILL find yourself encouraged in the presence of fellow believers. And more than likely, you will be the smiling face that your brothers and sisters in Christ long to see.

-Bethany Ligon

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How have you benefited from the encouragement of a brother or sister in Christ?
  2. How do you encourage others in your local church body? What connections have you made to believers beyond your local community – and how do you find ways to encourage and be the body of Christ to them?
  3. After reading Acts 11, how would you describe Barnabas? What qualities or actions of his would you like to grow in your own life? How will you work on that?

They Thought it Could Not be Done

Acts 10

April 28

Acts 10:36 – You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Our history books are filled with stories of people doing something that has never been done before. From Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the Moon, to Rosalind Franklin capturing the first image of DNA, to women getting the right to vote in 1920. 

For every time that something has been done for the first time, there was a time that it was believed that it couldn’t be done. 

Have you ever been told something couldn’t be done, and then you proved your naysayers wrong? 

These are the kind of thoughts I have when I read through Acts chapter 10. Up until this point in time, followers of Jesus were predominantly converts of Judaism. Cornelius the Centurion, was “devout and God-fearing”, as was the rest of his family. He was generous and prayed daily to God. He probably thought that this was as good as it was going to get. Until God gave him a vision of something more. 

Peter, along with all of the other disciples, were most likely glad to have a Roman Centurion on their side. But they too thought that because he was a Gentile, Cornelius wouldn’t and couldn’t have a relationship to God like the Hebrews could. Until God gave him a vision of something more. 

God made it clear to both of these men that the gospel message wasn’t limited to just one group of people, but that Jesus came for us all. And this led to Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, to be the first recorded baptized Gentile in all of Scripture. 

I don’t know if I will ever be the first of anyone to do something for the first time, but I am grateful that I am one of the benefactors of someone who did. And while I may never be a trailblazer, I do know that God still gives us dreams and visions for the kind of life that He longs to bless us with. Don’t shy away from a radical notion that God places on your heart. You never know how that might turn into a blessing not only for you, but for generations after you.

-Bethany Ligon

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Who do you think was most surprised – Cornelius or Peter?
  2. How has God surprised you with how deep and wide and wonderful His plan of salvation is?
  3. Who still needs to hear it and how will you be a part of sharing it with those who need to know?

When God says Go

When God Says Stop

Acts 9

April 27

Acts 9:17 – Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

A few days ago, I shared thoughts on becoming sensitive to the Holy Spirit, instead of clinging tight to traditions of the Law.

And yesterday, I shared my thoughts on evangelizing. 

In Acts chapter nine we have an example of a new believer being asked to do what some might describe as a dangerous mission – go visit the Jewish leader who is known to breath out murderous threats against followers of Jesus. 

May I be honest? If I had been Ananias, I would have been second guessing this new gospel message and all that God was asking me to do. I may have even been tempted to just flat out disobey and tell God “no”. 

Thank goodness Ananias chose to believe God and responded in obedience. Thank goodness Ananias trusted in God’s faithfulness, even when it didn’t make any sense. Thank goodness Ananias is an example we can turn to when we are also asked to do things that take us way out of our comfort zone. 

Ananias is called a disciple – so it’s not too much of a stretch to think that he was a devoted man of prayer and scripture study. Ananias was most likely in a spiritual posture to notice when the Lord was speaking to him. He wasn’t so wrapped up in his daily routines that he didn’t know when the Lord called to him in a vision. 

On the other hand, Saul, one who was devoted to the Law, had to be struck with blindness in order for the Lord to get his attention. 

The dichotomy of how the Lord spoke to these two men is striking, but both were startling. One was approached in a vision, the other lost his vision. One was told “go”, the other was told “stop”. One had to overcome doubt and act in faith, the other had to be humbled and overcome pride. 

This story of Saul’s conversion and Ananias’ part in it, shows us that God will use whatever method necessary to get us to stop and listen in order to make an impact for His Kingdom. 

-Bethany Ligon

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Have you ever done something for God that was a reach out of your comfort zone? What was the result? Would you do it again? Would you do something even more daring – for God?
  2. When was a time God probably wanted you to GO? When was a time God probably wanted you to STOP? Ask God if He is currently calling you to GO or to STOP. Then do it.
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