Today’s church is full of silent saints who don’t want to make waves. After all, nobody wants trouble! But some of the disciples were big troublemakers. Paul and Silas walked in the power of the Spirit and “gave their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). On one occasion, Paul confronted a fortune-teller and cast the evil spirit out of her, sending the entire city into an uproar. The slave-owners of the delivered woman dragged Paul and Silas into the marketplace to stand trial before the city magistrates. They then beat them and threw them into prison (see Acts 16:16-24).
It surely must have seemed that Satan had won this battle, but all the power of God was with these Holy Ghost troublemakers. “At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God … [and] suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed” (16:25-26). One result of all this was that the jailor fell down before the men and cried, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (16:30). After walking out of the prison, Paul and Silas went directly to the home of Lydia and encouraged their brothers in the Lord (see 16:40).
Paul and Silas fearlessly challenged the powers of darkness and a dead, corrupt religious system. “They came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul … reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ’” (17:1-3). The synagogue at Thessalonica had probably conducted quiet meetings for years, undisturbed. They diligently taught Scripture and outwardly appeared very holy. Then Paul came on the scene and in just three weeks of preaching the kingship of Jesus, he turned around that whole area.
Have you ever wished you were more fervent in your witness? Has Satan made you afraid of men? The Bible says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “My brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). May Paul and Silas inspire you to be bold in your testimony for Jesus.
Jesus is coming soon! “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
In Greek, the word “shout” means to incite by word, to awaken, spur to action. All overcomers will hear the voice of the archangel: “He is at the door! He whom you love has come to take you away!” This is no discreet coming, done quietly in a corner. No! Jesus is coming with trumpet blasting, with hosts of angels, with a shout, with a cosmic cry of the archangel. The dead in Christ will rise first to meet him in the air and what a thunderous rejoicing that will be. Then he will send his angels into all the world and gather his children to himself.
Throughout history, different ones have foolishly predicted the time of Christ’s return. Multitudes have sold all they owned and gone to specific sites to await his return — only to be disappointed. “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is” (Mark 13:33). Beware of getting caught up in when and how Jesus is coming when you should be concentrating on who is coming. God has purposely withheld the time of Christ’s return to keep his people in a state of watchfulness.
“This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). It was a glorified Man who left and it is a glorified Man who is returning! Do you desire to be with the Lord? Did you know that it is his desire to be with you? Live every day in joyful anticipation of his coming at any hour. And remember that until he comes, there is much work to be done!
One of the greatest blessings a true believer has is to know the voice of God. It is possible to hear God’s voice today as certainly as did Abraham and Moses—as clearly as did Samuel and David—as surely as did Paul, Peter, and the apostles.
God has always sought for a people who would honor and fear his voice. Yet, in our day many voices are crying out pretending to be the voice of God and thousands are being led astray. They put their very lives in the hands of a teacher or preacher who then becomes God to them. But no one is infallible and you need to know and hear God’s voice directly in order to judge what is being taught.
In addition, within our hearts are many voices crying out, all of them pretending to be the very voice of God. If you trust any of these voices without trying them all by God's Word, you will be led astray! There is the voice of our flesh, the voice of our stubborn will, the voice of the enemy, and the voice of the world. All of them are sweet, gentle, and promising you "This is God speaking!"
Let me tell you who is sure to be deceived: it is that Christian who thinks he can't be deceived — the one who once truly heard, but now moves by impressions and voices which have not come out of the secret closet. We are not infallible and every word we get is not from God.
Only those who value the Master’s voice enough to wait for him will hear him. God says to us, “If you want to hear my voice, pray to me in secret and I will reward you openly” (see Matthew 6:6). Busyness, lusts, covetousness, and the cares of life can choke out his voice.
God wants to speak a fresh word to you today! If you want to correctly hear his voice, get alone with him. His presence always accompanies his voice and if you spend time in his Word, the Holy Spirit will confirm everything with Scripture. That is the path to true joy and peace.
Some think that believers should always be upbeat, always sure of where they are going, always self-fulfilled and satisfied, but many times our smiles camouflage pain, confusion and sorrow. All true men and women of God have experienced such things. If you feel spiritually, physically and emotionally bankrupt, knowing that without a supernatural infusion of Christ’s strength you simply cannot go on, you are not alone. But be assured that there is complete victory for you!
The Bible is full of accounts of great men of God who came to the end of their rope. David is an example of “a man after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22) and yet at times he was overwhelmed with remorse, depression, and negative emotions of all kinds. “I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long” (Psalm 38:6).
Why was David allowed to endure so much loss and turmoil in his life? Some of it came as a result of his sin, for which he repented with sorrow, but it was also because godly character was being forged in him. There was not a moment the Holy Spirit was not with David, but he was permitted to come to the end of himself at times.
God promises strength to his anointed: “Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield … my heart greatly rejoices and with my song I will praise Him” (Psalm 28:6-7). If you will call on him, he will pour his strength into you: “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul … Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand … and Your right hand will save me” (Psalm 138:3, 7).
You can trust the Lord to see you through any circumstance in your life. The Word of God is full of glorious promises and our Lord delights in our faith and trust. Don’t neglect to encourage yourself in the Lord, just as David did, and grow stronger and stronger each day.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Paul was God’s chosen one, called from the life he was living and made into someone different. In addressing the saints here, he goes into a prolonged blessing, speaking everything that is in his heart regarding the greatness and goodness of Jesus (see verses 3-14).
Even though Paul was a learned man, he was not trying to impress anyone with his knowledge, as theologians sometimes do. He was voicing the cry of his heart, his deep passion for God and what he had done for him. And he was glorifying the Father!
In Acts 9, the account of the miracle that God did in Paul’s life gives us a glimpse of why he exalted Christ with such passion and purity and fervor. This was not mere theology to him, not dry doctrine to be debated, but this was reality — something that Jesus accomplished in him personally. Just as Paul was convinced that he was doing God’s work when he was sold out to his old form of belief — breathing threats from his venomous heart against the disciples of Christ — he was now completely changed, committed, and captivated by the love of Jesus, his Redeemer.
Paul had been filled with pride when Jesus stepped in and changed the very fabric of who he was. The light of heaven blinded him while he was still breathing threats against the followers of Christ, and he was knocked to the ground — blind. He came out of that divine encounter filled with an electrifying testimony of the irresistible love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Paul says, “Grace to you and peace from God.” Has your life been turned upside down and set on a new course? Have you experienced God’s grace and peace in your life? How wonderful to know that it is a free gift from your Father, and yours for the taking through Jesus Christ.