Paul knew that if he was faithful to God then there was no way the devil could win this battle. If God chose to let him live, then Paul would live for Christ, and if God chose to take him home to heaven, then he knew that was the ultimate promotion and his faith would end in sight. When we are believers, the devil cannot win. In fact, the devil has already lost because victory was won through the cross and the empty tomb. We still have a few things to wrap up in this dispensation, but the victory has already been won. Whether we live or die, we are the winners and Satan is still defeated.
YOU CAN’T CHAIN THE GOSPEL
When we are willing to decrease so that Jesus can increase, then we are ready to be effective in ministry. When people are less impressed with us and more impressed with Jesus after we minister to them, then we are truly being lights in the darkness. Even if they don’t remember our name, but they remember the name of Jesus, then we have done our job as faithful servants of our Lord and Savior.
My Prayer for You
As believers, our love for one another should be able to transcend any perceived slight or offense. Our love should reach across the aisle to apologize if we have hurt someone’s feelings, or unintentionally wounded them in any way. Without love at the core of a church like ours—a diverse church with people of all races, many nations and cultures, and yes, even various political perspectives—without love, we will never survive. Like Paul, my prayer is that our love will grow more and more.
Every Time I Think of You
What do people think, when they think of you? Do they think you are an encourager or do they think you are a complainer? Do they think you are joyful or do they you are sullen and brooding? Do they think you are generous or do they think you are miserly and stingy? Do they think you are pleasant to be around, or would they rather avoid you? Like it or not, when our name comes up in conversation, people who know us, immediately think something when they think about us.
Grace and Peace
We might think it is demeaning to refer to oneself as a slave or a servant, but in the first century, the slave of a high-ranking official often had more influence and authority than the average free Roman citizen. A servant sent in the name of his master came with conferred authority; therefore, to rebuff the servant was to rebuff the one who sent him. As the servants of Jesus Christ, we have been sent in His name, and there is power in the name of Jesus.
NO PLACE FOR THE DEVIL
Yes, there are some things that ought to stir up righteous indignation that moves us to bold action. Not violent action, but purposeful and transformational action, like praying more, respectfully speaking up at school board meetings and other public forums, and certainly voting based on the issues from a biblical perspective and not merely based on the political party.
You Gotta Start Somewhere
Acts 16 is a powerful chapter illustrating that if we are willing to obey the Holy Spirit, count the cost, and go, then God can do more than we could even ask or imagine. But you gotta start somewhere. This chapter gives a great overview of what is needed to plant a church or start a ministry successfully. Furthermore, it shows us that even in a place that is hostile to the gospel and to the people who proclaim the good news, ministry can be successful.
Holy God, Holy People
We are called to be holy, and that holiness is the result of our covenant relationship with God through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This relationship with God calls us to be a holy nation in a sinful society; to be lights in the darkness; to speak truth to deception; to live right and do right in a do-wrong world. Jesus said believers are in the world, but we are not of the world (Jn 17:15-16). Instead, our citizenship is in heaven, our identity is Jesus Christ. He set the standard and now by faith, we press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Ph 3:14).
Don’t Lose Jesus!
In verse 40, when Jesus was still very young, Luke said, “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Then in the last verse of our text, verse 52, Luke wrote, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” These two statements essentially say that Jesus matured physically, spiritually, and intellectually, and sandwiched between verses 40 and 52 is the account of Jesus in the temple at the age of 12.
God Knows What’s Coming
If we pay attention to what God is doing in our lives, I believe we will discover that God prepares us for what is coming before are even aware it is coming. Often, it is only when we look back that we see and understand that God is always two steps ahead of any problem or challenge that the enemy tried to put in our path.