Wednesday, May 10, 2006

When God Speaks (Acts 18)

After Paul’s visit to the intellectual city of Athens, he made his way west to the capital of the Roman province Achaia, Corinth. Its location, a narrow piece of land connecting mainland Greece to the Peloponnesian Peninsula, resulted in heavy quantities of land traffic passing through. Corinth was an interesting city, reading descriptions of it sounds like a promo for Las Vegas. One Bible dictionary described it as a city of wealth, luxury, and immorality. It was a busy city with a lot going on! What a peculiar backdrop to the preaching of Jesus Christ? If the name (Corinth) sounds familiar, it’s because two books in our Bible were written to the Corinthian Church (1 & 2 Corinthians). Here in Acts 18 we get to witness the start of the Corinthian Church.

At the beginning of chapter 18, we find Paul preaching Jesus Christ to the Jewish community (v.5) only to be persecuted (v.6). Big surprise! After boldly stating to the Jews, “Your blood be on your own heads!” (v.6) Paul enters the house next door belonging to Titius Justus. Some very good things follow according to verse 8 (Crispus and his entire household become believers as well as many Corinthians), but Paul was apparently still anxious and frazzled over the ongoing persecution aimed at him. However, God knew Paul and knew what was needed to boost his spirit. Listen to God as He speaks,

9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."

Look at the encouragement in God’s message to him:

"Do not be afraid” Imagine hearing those words directly from God? This had to inspire Paul to continue his missionary work. Seems the popular 90’s slogan No Fear originated with God.

“Keep on speaking, do not be silent” Ah, to bask in the comfort and peace of knowing God approves of what you are doing and wants you to keep doing it!

“For I am with you” A subtle reminder of His omnipresence had to be warmly welcomed by Paul. If the Creator of the universe and everything in it promises to be with us, we can never face an obstacle too big. Remember that next time you find yourself in trouble.

“No one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city" To be given security from God that you are going to remain physically unharmed…wow! That had to be uplifting to Paul. Proof God can take care of our physical needs and protect us. Another bit of encouragement to Paul; he’s not alone. God claims He has many believers in Corinth.

God’s Word to Paul may have been the driving factor in why he stayed a year and a half in Corinth (v.11). The Holy Spirit, who started His work in Jerusalem, has now spread west to the core of the Roman Empire. I think the Romans should be careful and alert, because Something bigger, better, and stronger is moving in.

I glean from this passage that God knows us better than we know ourselves and when He speaks, it’s always encouraging. Maybe this was a down and out time for Paul, maybe he was ready to throw in the towel and call it quits. However, when God’s Word bursts in on the scene, things changed. Could this be what we need to be praying for today? Praying and asking God to speak to and encourage us. I believe His primary way of speaking to us today is through His Word (our Bible). Here’s something to chew on this week; if we never read our Bibles, how can we expect to ever hear from Him? I encourage you this week to open your Bibles and listen.

- Have you ever prayed and asked God to speak to you?
- If so, what happened?
- How good are we at hearing God speak?
- Does God want to speak to us on a daily basis?
- Why or why not? What advice do you have to offer on how to hear God speak?


yourblogreader said...

It is powerful when God speaks. Thanks for this reminder and for the scripture which guides our lives.

Your blogs are really helpful, thanks!!!

Christy said...

It's funny that your blog talked about encouragment from God. That is exactly what God did for me tonight in my class. He didn't "speak" to me in an audible voice but He reaffirmed me through the class discussion, my professor, and the other students. It always amazes me that God knows exactly what we need, when we need it!