Opportunity Gained and Lost
Loving Lord, I thank You that You can take my life and make the crooked ways straight, the rough places smooth.
Read Acts 13:42-52
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Luke makes a connection between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the presence of joy in the disciples (52). Paul said joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
Paul’s words at the end of his sermon (40,41) could certainly be heard by the crowds as harsh and judgmental, yet many people wanted to hear more of this message because it was, at bottom, a message of grace. So powerful were these words, so welcome to those seeking God’s favor, that, in fact, on the next Sabbath “almost the whole city” gathered, eager to hear more (42-44). These words of grace and forgiveness were so powerful that they spread throughout the region and brought many Gentiles to faith (48,49). But we see here, too, the powerful influence of abusive words, emerging out of the jealousy of those opposed to the Gospel (45). These were words which bore destructive fruit in other’s lives (50) and resulted in violent behavior and lost opportunity to hear the life-giving words of the Gospel (46,47,50,51). God will not be thwarted in his purposes, however, and their negative words resulted in the pivotal decision made at the heart of this story to focus upon taking the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Often the news headlines are full of the scandal of unscrupulous journalists, their methods and the impact upon innocent people. Consider, too, how poetry and literature can open up new horizons, how stories can inspire heroic deeds. For all of us, our use of words carries responsibility. They can have far-reaching effects upon others for good or for harm (Jas. 3:3-10). They can impart life, hope, encouragement and well-being, or they can discourage and tear down. Do we actively cooperate with God for his living words to shape our thinking, behavior and speech so that when we walk away from a conversation we have left something of his life behind?
Pray for “wordsmiths” you know or whose work you admire (whether poets, authors, playwrights or journalists), that they would be uniquely inspired to be communicators of truth and hope.
Holy Spirit, may I release Your power and presence in my life. Fill me with the joy of the Lord.
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