Note from Jesus
Dear Follower of the Way,
The growth of My Kingdom will not necessarily be an easy undertaking. Spreading the good news of the Father’s grace is often met with opposition. However, do not see that opposition as an indication that you have done something wrong. After preventing Paul’s team from continuing to their intended destinations in Asia Minor, I sent Paul a vision of a man inviting his mission team and him to come over into Europe and help the people of Macedonia come to faith (Acts 16:6-10).
I sent him this vision to show him it was My will that he and his team should go into Macedonia. From there they continued on to Achaia and Greece. They would need a sense of certainty because they faced challenges, hardship, opposition, physical abuse, ridicule, and jail when obeying this call. Nevertheless, they were doing what I wanted, where I wanted them to do it, and how I wanted them to do it. They were in the center of My will, yet many things about this missionary journey were hard for them.
However, in the middle of these difficulties, great churches were planted, and incredible people were brought into My family. Important people among the Gentiles, especially among the women, became disciples. Paul grew incredibly close to the churches of Thessalonica and Philippi. He invested a lot of time in the Corinthians and a lot of prayer for them. Despite their early problems, these disciples became strong churches and congregations close to the apostle’s heart.
The point I want to make is this: don’t try to determine if something is My will simply by seeing if it is immediately “successful” or if it is easy! Often, time must pass before you can see your efforts bear fruit. Satan will frequently viciously test you in the initial stages of your ministry to try to get you to give up.
When I call you into a ministry or mission opportunity, don’t give up on it until I call you to do something else. Prayerfully ask the Spirit to help you discern the truth about what is happening. Be faithful to your mission. Leave the success of the mission to Me. Sometimes these tough times are necessary to reach those I’ve called you to reach. Sometimes the times are tough to prepare you for future efforts that need even greater endurance and perseverance. While endurance and perseverance aren’t always appreciated in your instant-everything society, these qualities are necessary if you are to truly develop the character and compassion of your Father. Being in the center of My will sometimes means hardships. Remember what I told my disciples on the eve of my death:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
(John 15:18 NIV)
Verses to Live
Notice that Paul had a strategic plan that he used to reach the cities of Macedonia. While he faced stiff opposition, he also influenced key people to follow Me. These were people who would later be important in the life of My church and for their Christian influence on their communities. The events recorded here occurred after Paul and Silas left Asia Minor and went to Macedonia in response to My call through Paul’s vision.
After leaving Philippi and passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica. There was a Jewish synagogue there. As he had done in other cities, Paul attended the synagogue and presented arguments, based on the Hebrew Scriptures, that the Anointed had to suffer and rise from the dead.
Who is this suffering and rising Anointed One I am proclaiming to you? He is Jesus.
He came back the next two Sabbaths — repeating the same pattern. Some of the ethnically Jewish people from the synagogue were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas. Even more devout Greeks who had affiliated with Judaism came to believe — along with quite a few of the city’s leading women.
Seeing this movement growing, the unconvinced Jewish people became protective and angry. They found some ruffians hanging out in the marketplaces and convinced them to help start a riot. Soon a mob formed, and the whole city was seething with tension. The mob was going street by street, looking for Paul and Silas — who were nowhere to be found. Frustrated, when the mob came to the house of a man named Jason, now known as a believer, they grabbed him and some other believers they found there and dragged them to the city officials.
These people — they’re political agitators turning the world upside down! They’ve come here to our fine city, and this man, Jason, has given them sanctuary and made his house a base for their operations. We want to expose their real intent; they are trying to overturn Caesar’s sensible decrees. They’re saying that Jesus is king, not Caesar!
Of course, this disturbed the crowd at large and the city officials especially, so they demanded bail from Jason and the others before releasing them.
The believers waited until dark and then sent Paul and Silas off to Berea. When they arrived, they went to the synagogue.
The Jewish people here were more receptive than they had been in Thessalonica. They warmly and enthusiastically welcomed the message and then, day by day, would check for themselves to see if what they heard from Paul and Silas was truly in harmony with the Hebrew Scriptures. Many of them were convinced, and the new believers included — as in Thessalonica — quite a few of the city’s leading Greek women and important men also. Reports got back to Thessalonica that Paul and Silas were now spreading God’s message in Berea; the Jewish people who had incited the riot in Thessalonica quickly came to Berea to do the same once again. The believers sent Paul away. A small group escorted him, first to the coast, and then all the way to Athens. Silas and Timothy, however, remained in Berea. Later they received instructions from Paul to join him in Athens as soon as possible.
Response in Prayer
O Father in heaven, forgive me for the times I’ve given up too easily. I want to be a person of endurance and perseverance so that Your character and compassion are brought forth in my life. Give me courage, dear Lord, to not give up when things are tough. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.