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Be There…Be Here

September 15, 2011

You’ve probably been to a city like Corinth.  In fact, you probably have a very accurate picture, based on your experience, of what it would have been like to walk into Corinth.  You’ve witnessed the diversity of that city.  You’ve witnessed the type of commerce driven community that you would find in that city.  And you’ve witnessed the sort of corruption that was prevalent in that city.  And this is one of the things that I want to constantly encourage you with.  When you read the Bible, don’t just read it…it’s not some fairy tale set before us for mere entertainment…rather, be there, smell the air, hear the sounds…take it in. 

 Here’s a chance…today…if you will…read through Acts 18:1-17.

 There are passages in Acts that are full of doctrine and teaching…we hear sermons from Peter and Paul…and see the actions of men like Barnabas.  And then there are passages like this one.  We don’t get a sermon…we get a narrative of what took place.  And at times, it can be tempting to sort of gloss over it…not really letting it sink in…and not really hearing what’s being said.   So in the midst of all the names and locations, it becomes imperative that we ask a very simple question; “What is God, through the pen of Luke, trying to teach us?”  And this can be a difficult question…one that many of us, unfortunately, often give up on without finding the answer.

 Paul engages in what is effectively self-support missionary work…tent-making ministry.  He’s been traveling a while, the cost of daily provisions might have been more in these major cities, and he is out of cash.  Now don’t miss this…he goes to work.  Many of us are called to this type of ministry.  We’re called to work a trade…whatever we are able to do…and to minister the Gospel.  Here, Paul models this for us.  The problem is that many Christians today have the tent maker part of the ministry…we’re into that…we just end up hiding behind the tents.  We let our work become ultimate…and we forsake the ministry of the Gospel.  Paul didn’t see it that way so he continued, striving to share the message of reconciliation through Christ…which is exactly what verse 5 says he was doing, “testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.”

 He’s telling them to stop looking.  He’s telling them that the one they’ve waited for, hoped for, and even searched for…is here.  Stop looking…just open your eyes.  It’s remarkable how simple the truth of the Gospel is…and equally remarkable how often we fail to see it.  And I think verse 6 is important for us.  We have this idea that Paul was sort of a Christian pied piper…just sort of playing his flute and dancing in the street while everyone jumped in line to follow him.  What we see in 6 is far from that.  Listen to me…sometimes, it’s just going to go bad.  We herald the good news…God calls.  It must and shall work this way. 

 Verses 9-10 tell us something of Paul’s state of mind at this time.  The Lord said to Paul, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”  The very next thing to happen to Paul is he gets picked up and taken before the Roman tribunal.  At that point, Paul had to be wondering if he was completely delusional…nothing’s going to happen to you…now you’re in court.  But before he even had to defend himself…he’s set free.  Not a miracle…just God working through people to accomplish His divine will.  The Lord told Paul not to be afraid.  He told him not to keep silent.  Some of us are afraid.  Many of us are keeping silent right now.  The reason God told him this: because “I am with you.”  This reminds me of the words of Christ at His ascension, “I am with you always, to the end of the age”…even in your town…just like in Corinth.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Amy Reynolds permalink
    September 15, 2011 6:07 pm

    This is a wonderful blog. Thanks so much for sharing and thanks so much for all you for the young adults at our church. What a blessing you and Laurie are!

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