Saturday 10 September, 2016

Acts 28:23-31

23 They decided to meet Paul on a certain day. At that time even more people came to the place where he was staying. From morning until evening, he told them about God’s kingdom. Using the Law of Moses and the Prophets, he tried to get them to believe in Jesus. 24 Some believed what he said, and others did not. 25 They didn’t agree with one another. They began to leave after Paul had made a final statement. He said, “The Holy Spirit was right when he spoke to your people long ago. Through Isaiah the prophet the Spirit said, 26 “ ‘Go to your people. Say to them, “You will hear but never understand. You will see but never know what you are seeing.” 27 These people’s hearts have become stubborn. They can barely hear with their ears. They have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes. They might hear with their ears. They might understand with their hearts. They might turn, and then I would heal them.’ (Isaiah 6:9,10) 28-29 “Here is what I want you to know. God has sent his salvation to the Gentiles. And they will listen!” 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in a house he rented. He welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He preached boldly about God’s kingdom. He taught people about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one could keep him from teaching and preaching about these things.

I read through this passage and marvel at Paul’s persistence and ongoing zeal. He was sharing the truth and yet so many did not believe him. I wonder if in quiet moments he reflected back on his own stubborn refusal of Jesus… I wonder if the knowledge that he had once been a Jesus hater but had become a Jesus follower helped him to have faith for others. Paul had spent time zealously imprisoning and murdering those who followed Jesus, surely if he could change, others could too. I wonder if he recalled the names and faces of the many people who had accepted Jesus, and drew strength from their stories of transformation. I wonder if in his conversations with God he despaired at people’s hard hearts, and God simply encouraged him to not give up… I don’t know how Paul did it, at the end of the day he was obediently doing what God had called him to and there was grace to fulfil his purpose.

Do I have Paul’s sense of zeal and purpose? Am I focusing on the visible outcome or on obedience? Who am I looking to for affirmation or to tell me ‘well done’? Am I focused on God or people?

God, please help me to be more like Paul, focused on obeying you, rather than pleasing people. Show me your purpose for my life and help me to surrender to it with a sense of expectation and trust. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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