Friday, April 4, 2014
April 4: Don’t be afraid. Speak!
The Lord said to Paul by a vision in the night, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So he stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Acts 18:9-11 NET)
Paul was reaching out to people in the unbelieving, skeptical, idolatrous, materialistic city of Corinth and many people were opposing him. The Jewish people who met in the synagogues every Sabbath had refused to believe in Jesus, and so Paul had left them and publicly announced that he would work with the Gentiles (non-Jews) instead. But God had a great work for Paul to do in Corinth, irrespective of the fact that it was an evil, godless city. It didn't matter that the Jewish people who should have believed in Jesus did not. Jesus appeared to Paul in a vision to strengthen him, telling him not to be afraid, not to keep silent, and to open his mouth and speak about Him. God promised to protect him from all harm and from evil people, and then told him that He had many people in that city. In spite of how the city looked or how people had treated him up to that point, there were many lost and suffering people who were longing to know God.
We should not be quick to give up on people, places, or situations. Our physical eyes are so limited and deceptive. Unless we use the eyes of faith to see what God sees, we will constantly get discouraged and allow ourselves to be convinced about the impossibility of situations and people. Unless we rebuke the fear (and we all feel it), open our mouths, refuse to be silent, lift up our heads by faith, and determine that the victory is ours, people and places will overwhelm us. Corinth was the most corrupt city of the time, but God had a great work for Paul to do there… and God has a great work for you to do wherever you are! The same God that used Paul in Corinth wants to use you to reach people and places. Don’t let appearances deceive you. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice and move forward.
Isn't it great that we don’t have to simply be patient, loving, and kind—that God wants us to be bold and determined and stubborn (in a good way)? Through your words, life, and reactions people are going to connect with God and end up in heaven. There are people around you who will listen to what you have to say and be influenced by you, people that no one else can reach.