This post will be both a teaching and a story and I hope you enjoy. Draw near, pray with me: Oh God speak use your word in my life to direct and encourage!
Last night we had worship at the lake and I was prepared to share some of the thoughts from Acts 13 and 14. As we sliced open the watermelon, a man named Adam with his guitar wandered over and started conversation. He seemed a little rough around the edges however since we were having a worship night and he had his guitar we figured he might be in the right place. We offered him some watermelon and talked about our favorite midnight snacks or summer treats, a good icebreaker as suggested by Lizzy. And after everyone had arrived, I shared my thoughts from Acts about Paul and Barnabas driven out of Antioch by unbelieving men. Men unbelieving so much so-that they stirred up the minds of those prominent in the city to be against Paul and Barnabas. However, if God is for you who can be against you? And we see Paul and Barnabas shake the dust off their feet and carry-on with the mission in great joy. I can almost hear them say, haters gonna hate. And in God’s Spirit they head towards their next destination, Iconium. The mission is to share the good news, however sometimes when you’re preaching the kingdom of God there’s both good news and bad news. There’s both rejoicing and persecution. It costs everything and it’s worth everything. Don’t get me wrong salvation is free but it requires total surrender.
In Acts 13:39 Paul had preached that through Christ everyone who believes is freed from all things from what you could not be freed through the law of Moses.
That truth is real today- as we saw last evening in part of Adam’s story. He was out near the lake camping in search for freedom from addiction asking his Father in the water just moments before we had gathered -to wash and make him new. He was lonely and in this thirst for freedom and he said he was looking for people to talk to and nobody would talk to him. He saw Lizzy with her guitar and our group that was gathering- drawn he came over.
He didn’t know we were Christians he said we just looked like some pretty girls gathering. But he was hungry enough to stick around when all we had to offer was watermelon and the worship of Jesus.
Paul and Barnabas are in this new town not worn out by the fight but ready for what’s next. They move forward with a fresh opportunity to preach where the worship of Jesus is not- they enter the synagogue and speak in such a manner that a large number of people believe. I’m confident their preaching was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit of God giving them boldness. History says there was a young girl there who was captivated by the call of God. Her name’s meaning is pretty awesome.
Thecla, Tecla, or its variants (Greek: Θέκλα, Thékla, lit. “God’s fame”) is a Greek femininegiven name.
History says that she followed God with such passion and such purity that she never married. History testifies that she traveled with Paul and eventually was martyred for her faith.
Paul, a bold example of following Jesus inspired many members of the Christian church and still inspires many today. His words to Timothy who he would call his son even though he wasn’t technically, are good for us today.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. (2 Timothy 3:10-11 ESV)
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV)
When I think about how the city of Antioch and Iconium were torn apart by the believing and unbelieving- it should not surprise us when heaven and earth quake under the same strain today.
I encourage you to read in Acts 14 how they were speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord who testified to the word of his grace granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.
This is our charge too. Preach boldly. Believe. Testify.
It’s amazing to me how Paul makes it so plain you can either respond with belief or you can live in such a way as to deceive others from the truth.
You can be either deceiving or believing.
Adam shared his story with us after I shared that I could relate to Paul and Barnabas in the midst of incredible good news also experiencing persecution or bad news.
My mom’s cancer has taken a turn for the worse. And I am responding by building a case for hope- so I read my rough draft of my case for hope and asked the guys and gals at the Lakeside worship if they would help me build a case for hope.
Adam shared how God had been meeting him in setting him free and providing for all his needs. As the word says, God will give us all we need//and has given us all we need for life and godliness.
Adam, ultimately received prayer and he sang us a song that went along with this so powerfully about the simplicity of believing, something he had written when he was 17.
There is a blessedness in the trial. There’s a promise in your storm. At the end of the time of Lakeside worship Ashley looked out and saw a rainbow and it hadn’t even been raining. I believe similarly as Paul wrote to Timothy how God delivered him from every trial– I’m convinced God will deliver us to.
Who will you take the gospel too? They may very well spread God’s fame- beyond you. As you go- know God is working around us all. I encourage you, let Him. And know the good news out weighs the bad- and our struggle in hope has a powerful anchor, Christ in you the hope of glory.
Here’s a few scriptures for your consideration and encouragement.
Mat 5:10“Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because theirs is the reign of the heavens.
1Pe 3:14But even if you suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not fear their threats, neither be troubled.”
And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. (Matthew 10:7-14 ESV)