Intro: I am presently recovering from a nasty bug; today is a much better day…thank you, Jesus! When we are suffering it is difficult to be fully present to the Lord, because we are focused on our present challenge, right? I am praying for those in our nation who have just been through a horrible run of tornadoes; my issues are minuscule in comparison. The devastation from the storms seem overwhelming. However, for believers, no matter what is going on in our lives in a given moment, we are to remain focused on the greater purpose of Christ. Getting silent helps us listen, so we can participate with Christ in healing hearts.
In our passage today, Paul [as a prisoner] has finally been physically transported to Rome. Preceding his arrival, Paul endures a corrupt trial in Jerusalem, a storm at sea off the African coast that lasts for days, a shipwreck, and a poisonous snake bite on the island of Malta. With each challenge, Paul is present to be a source of encouragement, guidance/wisdom, and support, as well as an example of living in fellowship with the resurrected Christ. None of the things that rise up against Paul consumes or shakes him. Instead, he focuses on God’s purpose in the midst of it all—to be a witness for the resurrected One to the unbelievers [Gentiles/non-Jews]. Paul desires for those around him to understand the value of life with Christ. We must always remember we are witnessing to the value of life in Christ, as well.
Our passage ends Luke’s narrative about the Acts of the Holy Spirit, but those acts continue through you and me. Whatever we face, we can shine the Light of the indwelling Savior to the world. The world will continue to be troubled by the Truth; Scripture assures us of that battle and reality. But, we are more than conquerers and we are strong and vibrant in the Spirit. So, like Paul, we must stay focused on the bigger picture. May we shake off whatever things of this fallen world that try to take dominion over us. We must rise up in the power of the Spirit and never be robbed of an opportunity to be a source of encouragement, guidance, or support to others who need the Savior abiding in us.
23 So they set a time to meet with Paul. On that day an even greater crowd gathered where he was staying. From morning until evening Paul taught them, opening up the truths of God’s kingdom. With convincing arguments from both the Law and the Prophets, he tried to persuade them about Jesus.
24 Some were converted, but others refused to believe. They argued back and forth, 25 still unable to agree among themselves. They were about to leave when Paul made one last statement to them: “The Holy Spirit stated it well when he spoke to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah:
26 ‘I send you to this people to say to them, “You will keep learning, but not understanding. You will keep staring at truth but not perceiving it. 27 For your hearts are hard and insensitive to me—you must be hard of hearing! For you’ve closed your eyes so that you won’t be troubled by the truth, and you’ve covered your ears so that you won’t have to listen and be pierced by what I say. For then you would have to respond and repent, so that I could heal your hearts.” ’
28 “So listen well. This wonderful salvation given by God is now being presented to the non-Jewish nations, and they will believe and receive it!”
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the wonderful way you use even the things the enemy sends to distract or destroy us to produce goodness around us. You bring us beauty for ashes and you are so faithful to your love for us. May your children stay the course and look for good opportunities to flow out of the ashes in order to glorify you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.