Monday, May 3, 2010

Do Not Allow Anything From Your Past To Restrict Your Future Usefulness

Silas and Paul, move on from Philippi in Greece and arrive in Thessalonica, where they look for the synagogue. They looked for the place of prayer. They looked for that setting where people at least had a belief in God. "As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue." We read all about this at the beginning of Acts Chapter 17 in the New Testament

This man has had bad experiences among the Jews, and with the Jews, but still he realises that this is where he is to begin. Paul does not permit the past to colour his present, and like His Saviour, Jesus Christ, Paul goes back to the synagogue.

Do not allow anything from your past limit your service for Jesus Christ. If something has to be dealt with, have it dealt with, and then get on with you ministry.

On the Sabbath day it was the custom of Jesus to go and worship in the synagogue at Nazareth.

When we belong to Jesus - when we are born again - converted - anointed with the Holy Spirit - there is that desire - that longing - to worship the Living God - to praise and pray and hear His Holy Word - and to meet together in fellowship with the people who belong to Jesus.

This is one of the signs to the world that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. When we are found faithful in fellowship - among the people of God, and with the people of God - we remind the people of God.

The apostles were certainly a sign of the presence of God in Chapter 16. Lydia, the girl with the python spirit - the pimps who had their income curtailed - and then the jailer and his family - all these people were reminded of God in different ways. Paul and Silas had marks on their backs, and news of the baptisms would soon get out. God was certainly at work in the city of Philippi.

We are dealing with facts in these Chapters. These are actual events and incidents and happenings. These are real people and it is all of this so very vivid.

In what ways are we signs to our communities? How do we remind people that there is a God? Are we real and for real, or do people consider us as hypocrites - rather good actors? Remember, that is what the word 'hypocrite' means - it comes from the world of theatre where a man hid behind a mask. To consider and meditate upon the lessons and implications of Chapter 16 will always be immensely valuable.

In Acts 17, Paul and Silas arrive in Thessalonica, and for three Sabbaths Paul is reasoning with these Jews from the Scriptures. He is opening up the Word of God and teaching the people that it was necessary for Christ to suffer and be crucified and rise again from the dead.

When Paul is speaking to Jews he quotes from the Scriptures. His desire is to ground his preaching and teaching upon The Word of God. Paul has a great love for The Word of God, and he seeks to impart that to people, everywhere he goes.

Paul preaches that it is this Jesus Who was crucified and Who is now risen - it is He Who is the Christ - the Messiah. He is the Saviour Who is able to save you from your sins.

Jesus Christ is the One Who is able to save us from our sins.

He not only saves us from the penalty of sin, but He gives us that ability to stop committing these sins. He takes away the taste for certain wrong actions, and the desire to behave in wrong ways. Jesus takes all this from us from us.

There was a response. Some believed and sided with Paul and Silas. Quite a number realise that they were sinners and need Jesus Christ to deal with their situation. Some of the prominent women-folks realised that they too were sinners, requiring Jesus Christ the Saviour.

BUT! The Jews, who did not believe, were moved with envy. They allowed themselves to be influenced by bad motivation. Religious jealousy grew in their hearts, and that is a terrible thing. It can still be very real.

What is happening is this. The religious people who were closed to Jesus Christ, see other people who were open to Jesus Christ, receiving His Love and Mercy and Forgiveness and Peace and Blessing.

They become jealous, and do horrible things out of jealousy. Religious jealousy can make a man do appalling things.

These closed hard unbelievers got hold of some rabble-rousers of the worst kind, and they set the city in an uproar. This is a rent-a-gang. There is a riot.

They assaulted the house of Jason, where Silas and Paul were based, and look at the accusations - "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here. They are defying Caesar's decrees, saying there is another king, one called Jesus."

The mouths of those hard closed critical men are filled with distortion, exaggeration, and lies - and yet, in what they say, there is a degree of truth - but NOT the whole truth. It is not all true. They make false charges. In an old translation, the apostles were accused of turning the place upside down. It was everyone else who was upside down. Paul and Silas, by their preaching and teaching, are seeking to turn the world the right way up.

BUT, unbelievers cannot see that. They never have. They never will.

We see here how disciples of Jesus Christ are revolutionaries in the highest and best and finest sense. They are always seeking to change people's wrong ideas about God, and wrong ideas about themselves.

Being a disciple of Jesus can mean a revolution in so many areas of our lives, and this is where we see one big difference between being religious and being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Paul was not preaching contrary to the laws of Caesar, yet, he was saying there was another King - JESUS - but not as a rival. Similar things were said when Jesus was born.

How do you react, and how will you react, when you are falsely accused because of your faith in Jesus
Christ and as a consequence of ministering faithfully in the power of the Holy Spirit?

Sandy Shaw


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