Friday, August 11, 2017

Interconnected!

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

I challenged My apostles before My ascension to make faith in Me a worldwide movement of grace and discipleship offered to all people (Matthew 28:18-20). They were to begin where they were. They were to share grace with their people and reach their region. Then they were to impact the world with My good news and a life of discipleship (Acts 1:8). This sharing is what the apostles did in Jerusalem and Judea in the early days of My church, as recorded in the book of Acts. Then with the martyrdom of Stephen, some of My followers were scattered out from Jerusalem and Judea and went into Samaria and even to more-Gentile regions (Acts 8:1-4; Acts 11:19-21). On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas followed a similar pattern in each city by teaching first in Jewish synagogues and then also going to Gentiles (Acts 13:1-8; Acts 13:44-46).

In today’s verses, you read about the interconnectedness of the ancient world. You can see how My early disciples spread the word, strengthened churches, and grew My movement. Paul, Peter, and Barnabas were great missionaries, disciple-makers, and church planters. Many other people also were instrumental in helping to grow the church. In today’s verses, you meet Aquila and his wife Priscilla (also sometimes called Prisca). They were a great team. They were devoted to bringing people to faith in Me. They were upper middle-class merchants who took the gospel with them wherever they went in their business travels. They opened their homes as the places for My disciples to meet in three cities — Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome (Acts 18:1-3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19; Romans 16:3). You also meet Apollos, who traveled widely and was a great public speaker and a scholar of the Hebrew Scriptures — the Law, Writings, and Prophets.

Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos are examples of the many people throughout the ages who have shared My story of grace as they traveled. For each of them, his or her job was a calling. It was a way to spread My message to all with whom they came in contact. They sought out groups of believers and strengthened them. They shared news of what was happening with My disciples in other places in the world. They led others to follow Me. They offered their time and their homes for believers to meet, eat, and worship together. Their faith was not just something they had in their heads or believed in their hearts, but it permeated every aspect of their lives.

In today’s verses, you will notice that Paul travels through significant portions of the northern and northeastern Mediterranean region. He goes through Greece, Macedonia, the Roman province of Asia, Galatia, Syria, and Judea. He goes back and strengthens struggling churches. He encourages new believers. He confirms leaders in the churches he had previously planted. He carries news about what is happening in My family in other parts of the world.

However, Paul was not alone in doing these things. Others are not named in the Bible but were like Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos. Through the efforts of all of these disciples, the good news about Me spread all over the world. I used the folks you know well, like Paul, Peter, and Barnabas. I also used those you know less well, like Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos, and some folks not mentioned by name. What I began with a small group in Galilee has impacted the whole world. You are testimony that this process didn’t end in the first century. This process is still effective. This process is still part of My plan!

So, based on what you read today, I want to place a few things on your heart.

First, don’t be afraid to travel and go to new places in the world. Yes, travel can be tiring and sometimes even dangerous. However, you are My disciple. You are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Your mission field is as close as your next door neighbor and as far away as someone from another culture on the other side of your world.

Second, when you travel remember that you go as My representative. Whether your travel is for vacation, business, pleasure, or intentional mission, you are My messenger. No matter who pays for your travel, you are sent by Me, to represent Me, and to share My grace!

Third, use your travel as a time to connect to other believers. Do not take a vacation from fellowship and worship. Bring a word of grace from the people with whom you normally fellowship. Give the believers you meet encouragement. Offer a blessing in My name to their church family and their worship gathering, no matter how large or small. Enjoy the blessing of being family with people you don’t yet know, but with whom you will share eternity!

Fourth, as you travel, I will place people in your path who are seeking to find what you have found in Me. If you listen to hear the hearts of these people you meet, the Spirit will help you and empower you. One of the benefits of your going to other places is to be available to these people. Some you meet will be asking to find hope, seeking to discover Me, and knocking on the door of heaven needing grace (Matthew 7:7-8).

Fifth, when you go, be respectful of those you meet. They know their culture and how to reach people in their culture better than you do. But, if you find yourself compelled to correct something, make sure you do it tenderly and privately after you have invested yourself in their family of faith and the community they are trying to reach. Priscilla and Aquila are great examples of this principle, especially in how they corrected Apollos: “They took him aside and in private explained the way of God to him more accurately and fully.”

Your life is more interconnected to the world than you realize. I will touch your world through your influence, and you will discover the world is much smaller than you realize when you go where you go as My representative of grace.

Verses to Live

Notice the travel of Paul in the verses below. Notice as well how Apollos and also Aquila and Priscilla travel extensively. Now notice how all these travels are interwoven into the fabric of My people and the sharing of My grace!

From Athens, Paul traveled to Corinth alone. He found a Jewish man there named Aquila, originally from Pontus. Aquila and his wife Priscilla had recently come to Corinth from Italy because Claudius had banished all Jews from Rome. Paul visited them in their home and discovered they shared the same trade of tent making. He then became their long-term guest and joined them in their tentmaking business.

(Acts 18:1-3)

At the end of 18 months, Paul said good-bye to the believers in Corinth. He wanted to travel to the east and south to Syria by ship; so, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila, he went to the nearby port city of Cenchrea, where he fulfilled a vow he had made by cutting his hair. The three of them sailed east to Ephesus where Paul would leave Priscilla and Aquila. Paul again went to the synagogue where he dialogued with the Jews. They were receptive and invited him to stay longer. But he politely declined.

Paul:

If God wills, I’ll return at some point.

He caught a ship bound south and east for Caesarea by the sea. There he went up for a brief visit with the believers in the church at Jerusalem; then he headed north to Antioch. He spent considerable time there and then left again, visiting city after city throughout Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples in each place.

Meanwhile, back in Ephesus, a Jew named Apollos made contact with the community of believers. He had been raised in Alexandria. Apollos was eloquent and well educated in the Hebrew Scriptures. He was partially instructed in the way of the Lord, and he added to his native eloquence a burning enthusiasm to teach about Jesus. He taught accurately what he knew; but he had only understood part of the good news, specifically the ritual cleansing through baptism preached by John, the forerunner of Jesus. So, when Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they discerned both his gift and his lack of full understanding. They took him aside and in private explained the way of God to him more accurately and fully. He wanted to head west into Achaia, where Paul had recently been, to preach there. The believers encouraged him to do so and sent a letter instructing the Greek disciples to welcome him. Upon his arrival, he was of great help to all in Achaia who had, by the grace of God, become believers. This gifted speaker publicly demonstrated, based on the Hebrew Scriptures, that the promised Anointed One is Jesus. Then, when the Jews there raised counterarguments, he refuted them with great power.

(Acts 18:18-28)

Response in Prayer

Father, forgive me for the times I have forgotten that I am Jesus’ emissary — His representative sent to share His grace wherever I go and regardless of whoever sends me on my travels. Open my eyes, dear Spirit of the living God, to see the people hungering to know more about Jesus. Lord Jesus, give me the words to say and the character of life to share Your story and Your grace with those who are asking, seeking, and knocking. Use me, dear LORD, to be Your instrument of peace, grace, mercy, hospitality, and encouragement. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus‘ is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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From: “A Year with Jesus”
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