Thursday, April 26, 2012

It happens to even the best of us...

[From April 12, 2012]

"When Silas & Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus.  When they opposed & reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, 'Your blood be on your own heads!  I am innocent.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles.'"
(Acts 18:5-6)

Paul was such a passionate guy!  He grew up as a Pharisee... a strict adherent to the laws of God.  He even carried out his passion so far as to persecute the early Christians, whom he felt were distorting true Judaism.  Then God got a hold of him and that passion got redirected.  He became zealous for the LORD & the teachings of Jesus!  He took every chance he could to visit the synagogues and speak to the leading Jews about how Jesus was the Messiah.  Some believed.  Many didn't.  In fact, many took great offense at him.  But Paul kept at it.  At least until he got to Corinth.  That's when Paul "had enough."  After being "opposed & reviled," he turned his attention to the Gentiles (non-Jews).  He would have nothing more to do with his own people.

But 12 verses later, Paul reaches Ephesus.  And what's the first thing that he does?  He goes to the synagogue and has "a discussion with the Jews."  It actually goes well.  They ask him to come back again, but he's on his way.  "I will return if God wills," he tells them.

This impressed a couple of things on my heart as I read them today... first, ministry is frustrating at times!  We say things in the heat of the moment that we may not mean completely.  I'm sure Paul was tired of his own people rejecting his message.  So even though he "shook the dust off" in Corinth, he found himself down to the synagogues once again in Ephesus.  God has wired us with passion and a mission.

Second, there's always someone else hungry for an experience of God.  Even if most of his Jewish brothers and sisters rejected his message, there were folks in Ephesus who connected with him.  This encourages me to never give up!  We can't reach all the people all the time... but there are folks who want (and NEED!) to hear a message of hope!  So hang in there, all you fellow laborers in the vineyard... what you're going through happens to even the best of us!

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