Passage for Study: Acts 14: 1 - 20 … Acts 14 linked for your study …
My Journal for Today: Today’s account in the life of Paul’s ministry into the Greek world, is a rather amazing one to me. And it is one with which I have some degree of empathy. No, I never was stoned and left for dead in my called personal ministry; but when the ministry God called me to found and lead was launched in my church about 10 years ago, I was regularly rejected and shunned by my fellow Christians, especially the men of our church. If you go to http://www.battleplanministries.org/, you’ll see why our men might have stayed away from me. Ministering to Christians who desire to walk free from habitual sexual sin is not a ministry with which many men in our church wanted to be identified. So, being seen mingling with Bill Berry, “the Battle Plan guy,” might mean that others might think they had sexual sin problems in their lives. Even those who were free of that type of habitual sin didn’t want to seem like they did by sitting with yours truly at church events. Hence, for some time the men of our church “stoned” me with silence and separation.
So, though my very physical life was not “stoned,” I can empathize with the emotional rejection Paul experienced. But we note what he did. Once he came to, after being stoned and left for dead, we have to be impressed that he went right back into the same city where he had been stoned. Is that not commitment and determination into which God, the Holy Spirit, can pour His enabling grace?
Staying in the game and dealing with rejection when one witnesses – with testimony – the truth of what Christ has done for one’s self and what God’s healing/renewing grace can do in the lives of broken believers is a lonely, and sometimes risky, calling. But, my friend, please learn one truth from today’s passage, and take it from my experience. This is a truth which was taught to me years ago, and one to which I can witness, from experience, will hold you in good stead when you’re called into a personal ministry which flies in the face of a darkened world when you become one who shines Christ’s light into that world.
TRUTH: “God’s calling is God’s enablement.” Take it to the bank, fellow Christian. If God calls you to a task, He’s going to give you His grace to carry out that mission or ministry. Most certainly all Christians are called to witness for Christ and/or to share and spread the Gospel. That calling is well documented in Acts 1: 8 and Matt. 28: 19-20. Maybe God has called you, as He did me, into a socially entangling ministry; and maybe you’re experiencing the type of fears or setbacks to which Paul’s story today addresses.
But then again, maybe you are put up on a pedestal of success and you’re being lauded as an icon of God’s calling and perseverance. Both extremes, my friends, are Satan’s attempts to bring us down and to drive us away from God’s calling. Like Paul in today’s passage, we cannot be too inflated by praise or deflated by rejection to walk away from our God-driven calling. Paul didn’t get puffed up by those who lauded him as God’s answer to God; and he didn’t like the persecution – even a stoning – keep him down or send him into a state of pitiful self pity.
No, Paul simply knew that he was doing what God called him to do; and when he was felled, he got back up, dusted himself off, and got back into the race. And much of the New Testament is a testimony of Paul’s witness to the truth of my premise for today … that “God’s calling is HIS enablement!”
So, I hope you respond when God calls you into a Spirit-led ministry or missionary effort. Or I hope you respond when he calls you to share your testimony – no matter how frightening it might be – to someone you work with or one you’re sitting with on a plane flight. Or maybe God is calling you live as a Priest in your own home as a CHRISTIAN husband, father, or grandparent. Whatever your calling, if it’s GOD’S calling, He is going to pour His power into your weakness (see 2nd Cor. 12: 9). If it’s GOD”S calling, He is going to pour His providence into the task, giving you what it takes to accomplish what He has called you to do. If it’s GOD’S calling, He has provided you with His truth to show you the way and make you His success (see Joshua 1: 1-9, especially verse 8).
So, take heart to Paul’s own words about moving forward for God, as he instructed his disciple Timothy in 2nd Timothy 1: 7. And when called, … even when you’re knocked down, … move forward in God’s calling, letting God empower and enable you to do His work.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, it was YOU who called me; and it’s YOU who provide the way for me. Amen