March 1, 2011: Devotion Sharing

Acts 13-15

A. Paul was prepared to give an answer for his faith, and articulated it clearly, summarizing man’s history with God and God’s salvation plan through Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins.  When given the opportunity, he spoke up boldly and linked the way the Jews and Gentiles had been living and understanding according to Moses’ law with the gospel revealed in Jesus.  He was able to make it clear and relevant to his listeners, exactly where they were.  In the same way, it is crucial that I as a believer, called a herald and apostle and teacher by God, know how to articulate my faith and help others see the link between their lives and their need for the gospel.  This means not only knowing the Word of God, but also knowing and thinking about people’s lives today, the kinds of brokenness and enslavement and sins and patterns and values they are entrapped in, and thinking about how God addresses exactly where they are.

A. Paul lived a dynamic life given over to God.  Clearly it was not a peaceful, predictable life.  He was this surrendered to God, that no matter what happened, he gave himself fully to sharing the gospel.  In all the ups and downs, from stoning and persecution from the Jews, to the joy and excitement of converts and the Holy Spirit’s stirring, to the mistaken worship of the people in Lystra, to Mark deserting him and Barnabas, to splitting from Barnabas in sharp dispute, A. Paul persevered in proclaiming the gospel and giving himself fully to whoever was in front of him.  This just reflects what it means to live a life surrendered to God, completely subject to the demands of the gospel which involve all the demands, needs, and ups and downs that come with caring about people.  Perhaps his life seems so radical because A. Paul was literally, physically, constantly on the move, going from place to place and people to people, with dynamic exciting dangerous things going on and threats to his life, but given the implications of the gospel and whether people receive it or not, the eternal consequences, it only makes sense that A. Paul would be this active and surrendered and zealous to share the gospel with many.  Similarly for me as a believer, the implications of people receiving and not receiving the gospel have the same eternal consequences, and thus my view of my life should be aligned with this, whether it means physically and literally being on the move and not settling down and seeking a comfortable cozy life according to the American Dream, but also just being on the move in my mind and  heart, constantly thinking of people who need the gospel and to be trained up as disciples, how to minister and equip them better, etc.  Instead of seeking that comfortable place where relationships and schedules are “peaceful” and calm, or just trying to ride out the ups and downs of life and relationships, I need to persevere in trying to faithfully share the gospel and raise up disciples.  This too is part of a life surrendered to God, when I am not insisting on things going according to my comfortable pace and schedule and expectation and desires, but persevering and being faithful no matter what happens.

A. Paul was really a loving shepherd.  He was not just satisfied and complacent with sharing the gospel and people just converting.  His heart and mind continued with them, so that even as he zealously labored to bring the gospel to others, he also had in mind and heart the needs of the believers for growth, support, and leading.  Despite all his missionary journeys and many converts, A. Paul’s heart still lingered over them and he was devoted to them so that he returned back to strengthen, encourage, and check up on them.  Likewise, as a leader or just older sister, I need to have this kind of heart that loves younger brothers and sisters with this kind of depth and perseverance, that is not easily complacent but always has on my mind and heart their welfare, is always considering their needs and how to lead them better.  This is the kind of thorough, long-term and detailed love and care I have received and still receive, and the kind of shepherd I want to be as well.

Submitted by Becky Fong, Gracepoint Berkeley.

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