“When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 18:5 NKJV
It seems like a million years ago, but I used to be a long distance runner. When running a long race, at some point during a race, no matter how much you practice and build up endurance, you get worn out. At that critical point, you feel done, like you can’t go on. But then, your body and mind just flip a switch and a sudden burst of energy kicks in. It is called a “Second Wind”. When I ran, I would try to control when that happened and use it to my advantage. Hoping it kicked in before everyone else so I could sprint past them and get an advantage.
The author of Hebrews likened our relationship with God, and fulfilling His purpose for our lives, like a long distance race (Hebrews 12:1-2). Of course to win this race, you must first enter it and have a relationship with God.
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is the Book of Acts chapter 18 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).
Ministering at Corinth
18 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled [a]by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named [b]Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
12 When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the [c]judgment seat, 13 saying, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.”
14 And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. 15 But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.” 16 And he drove them from the judgment seat. 17 Then [d]all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.
Paul Returns to Antioch
18 So Paul still remained [e]a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, “I[f] must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus.
22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and [g]gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia [h]in order, strengthening all the disciples.
Ministry of Apollos
24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.
- Acts 18:5 Or in his spirit or in the Spirit
- Acts 18:7 NU Titius Justus
- Acts 18:12 Gr. bema
- Acts 18:17 NU they all
- Acts 18:18 Lit. many days
- Acts 18:21 NU omits I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem
- Acts 18:22 To Jerusalem
- Acts 18:23 successively
MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
Friday I speculated that Paul was beginning to wear down a little. I am not saying he was breaking down or losing his salvation or mind or anything. He was tired – constantly on the run for his life and isolated from him crew in a humanistic environment is enough to wear anyone down! And in today’s reading we see more proof for my speculation. Yes, I know – I am not one to preach and teach speculation but stick with me here, I am making a point and praying God reveal some tasty meat to strengthen us all through this.
We have spent 2 year essentially running for our lives from covid and fear. We have also been forced in to isolation to various degrees. And as we are wearing out – now is the threat of World War 3 and the USA seems to be in dooms day mode, because of weak leadership. (I do not care if you think Biden and this administration is strong and brilliant – The world stage says he is weak and a joke and therefore the USA is at a huge risk.)
Many people I speak to are crying there is no hope therefore Maranatha, trying to go back to ‘normal’ to pretend for a moment we aren’t here in the last days, and giving up!!! Well, yes, that is my prayer too – but do not lay down and die! God’s breath is still in our lungs and having done all, we must stand!!
WW3 started with covid in 2020 and is not a battle of earthy weapons. So the conflict in the Ukraine is not WW3. (And it is grammatically correct to use the word ‘the” in front of a proper noun, like the name of a country. Stated for those who are saying it somehow oppresses them. The USA has a “the”. So do many others. I am not sure why people do not use the “the” in front of others.)
I will also be bold and say IN MY OPINION – the conflict in the Ukraine and the attack from the Russians is NOT what we are told. I told you my spirit was heavy over all of this but I did not say why – but it is because there is a lie somewhere in this. A BIG lie. Never, especially in this time in history, do the Christians and witches and mainstream media and blacks and LGBT…. All agree on the same thing let alone “Prayers for…” anything. How about the Christian raise our prayers higher in communion with God and pray His Kingdom power and glory be revealed and souls saved in Ukraine in Russia, in USA, in all the nations of the world!
Please stick with me even though I am all sorts of opinionated and subjective today – but there is meat from the word here… stay, please. Grant me some grace to get these things off my chest.
Yes we see that God’s judgement is here – but that does not mean there is no hope… oh no! Judgement is here and THAT IS OUR HOPE! Just make sure you repent and are on the right side of that judgement!
From today’s reading, let us look at Paul’s example of how he coped when tired out.
Verse one – Paul fled Athens. This time it was not for his life, Paul did not wait until he provoked the people to kill him. He saw they rejected Christ, and that was enough to make him turn tail.
When Paul arrived in Corinth, he retreated to his trade. He found a Jew (not a Christian) and went back to what he knew. (like many people now, trying to go back to the comfort of “normal”)
Side note: Paul was a well-educated Roman who also had a trade skill he apprenticed and acquired, and at the same time he also studied Torah and scriptures and was trained up as a Pharisee. Quite the accomplishment to have lived two lives before Jesus saved him and made him a missionary.
It is understood by the text that Aquila and Priscilla were converted to believing in Jesus. And Paul, being a Pharisee continued to go to synagogue every Sabbath and reason. It is the way of the Pharisee. And he did persuade some – but this was not his usual boldness and fire as we can understand from Verse 5.
“When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 18:5
Compelled by the Spirit – Here it is! That second wind is about to kick in! The blessings of the Lord are about to pour out! Here comes that latter rain! Here come the promises and purpose and power! Here is comes… but as usual, (verse 6) “…they opposed him and blasphemed…”
The second wind was there but was Paul receiving it in the fullness?
“Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9-10
Paul took action, then the promise and fullness came. He was compelled and acted out of faith – then the fullness of the second wind was received. Sometimes we must act upon it when we are compelled by the Holy Spirit, before we have ALL the strength, while we are still weak.
Like running a race – we must continue in order to get the second wind, compelled and determined not to give up, but to press through.
Be careful not to take this out of context. ‘No one will attack you’ seems like a great promise to hold onto – for us to pray and cling to, but it it specifically for Paul and for that small time period – Paul will die a martyr. Keep the text in context.
Here is an interesting note, I did not catch until about a year ago when I was studying covenants with God. This vision, Paul had here in today’s reading, included a covenant between Paul and God. God’s promise was protection and Paul’s vow was boldness and trusting God for the protection. And as with all covenants there was a physical, tangible symbol of being bound to this arrangement, like in a marriage covenant there is a ring. In this case Paul did not cut his hair. Let’s skip ahead in today’s reading to show you the chapter and verse showing that Paul made a covenant vow with God:
“So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.” Acts 18:18
And from that point on the vow was over and Paul’s life was again in danger – but Paul was well rested and ready or the fight. The vow had completed its job of strengthening him in the spirit – reminding him that we battle in spirit and not flesh and blood. That souls are worth the risk to the physical and spirit matters first.
Paul’s second wind began with being restored to the brethren and was enforced with a beautiful promise.
Another important note about Paul’s second wind – it seems like Paul held onto that fear of being killed. When rejoined to the crew, he was less afraid – but there is safety in numbers. He needed to have a come to Jesus moment with his fear. Yes – his fear needed to meet Jesus!
We live on a planet that is currently blanketed with the spirit of fear – such as was foretold about these time by Jesus (Luke 21:26). But as believers we must introduce our fears to Jesus, overcoming with Love, Power, and a Sound Mind! If Jesus asks for a commitment in exchange for the secret fear that holds you back, offer that commitment to him. But also take the time to research the entire Bible about covenants and vows. It is not something to enter into lightly.
Paul’s fear of death is very relatable, especially as persecution is on the rise. No one wants to be persecuted or to die for Jesus, in our flesh. But our spirit understands (hopefully). So, Paul made the resolve here – the resolve that if it is necessary, he will die for Jesus. As a new believer and with the drive to share salvation with others Paul ran foolhardy into the risk of death. It was this zealousness that God chose. When reality made Paul less zealous, (when Paul realized he was going to get himself killed and there was a fear of that) Paul needed to make a choice to be zealous regardless. Paul needed to resolve that if he dies, he dies. In exchange God gave Paul a blessed ministry with some easy days in Corinth.
God has already promised us his provisions, that he will finish what he started, and secured our salvation. Are we willing to die for him if required of us? I have asked before and asked you to soul search and come up with the answer. Initially we all say yes. We all think, that if a gun was pointing at our head, we would say “I will not deny my Christ.” Even Peter thought he wouldn’t. Thankfully Peter was forgiven (all he needed to do what repent of it). To me that thought chain is not enough; for me I do not have enough care for earth. But what if the gun was pointed at my son’s head, and I was told to deny Christ or he would die? And my son is not a believer and would die angry at me, not repentant. Would I deny Christ so my son would live and have another opportunity to believe? I search my heart and pray that I would not deny my Lord. Over the last year, I have lost many people and things – I almost lost my son, I almost lost my life – I have learned to detach. I love my son just as much – but I trust God more than any plan of the devil. God is sovereign – his ways are not ours.
In today’s reading Paul finishes his work in Corinth and heads back to Jerusalem for the feast and he passes though checking in on various churches along the way.
Priscilla and Aquila went with him to Ephesus. Then the verse tell you which churches Paul visited and his route to Jerusalem. As Paul went, he was able to encourage all the churches – Paul had his second wind. He had his hope. He was unwilling to just give up – He want to make sure he was still standing the way he was made to stand. (You and I may not be called to a life like his, but we are called to not give up and to continue to take a stand against evil.)
The final part of today’s reading is a snapshot at the bigger picture. I know I missed the bigger picture when I was younger. Sermons and Sunday school lessons from my youth seemed to focus too heavily on Paul’s actions and not enough global context for me to even realize there was a larger thing happening in the world. I mean, I suppose I understood that the 12 disciples and the Christians that were scattered were making their way out further into the world and teaching others about Christ. But I never stopped to think about the global perspective.
I watched a documentary with an archeologist who was following the path of Paul. The archeologist had decided that when Paul arrived in certain cities (that were not described in Paul’s missionary journeys as cities, where Paul introduced Jesus to the people), that there were believers in those cities because Paul must have traveled there and was preaching there during the time in which the Bible says Paul was in Tarsus (after fleeing Jerusalem). Later in life Paul wrote that during that time in Tarsus, he was in continual prayer and study learning from Jesus. So he could not go out and plant churches. AND it is a very narrow global view to think only Paul (and his crew) were fulfilling the “Go Ye therefore” command that Jesus gave His disciples. And even that is more narrow than the truth.
Because in verse 24 we meet Apollos. Apollos knew the scriptures and rightly divided them and he was taught by a follower of John the Baptist. So Apollo was still preparing the way for Jesus – out there preaching and teaching that He is coming! He meets Aquila and Priscilla, who learned the truth from Paul. And they teach Apollo the rest of the story – Jesus came and fulfilled the scriptures. Here are just three people, who learned and were out there evangelizing and were not from the 12 disciples, who were with Jesus during his ministry.
We can extrapolate data from these three and the random pop up churches that we didn’t know of to learn that Paul’s ministry was NOT the only successful ministry out there and this “Christianity” was spreading like wild fire in every direction – not just through turkey which was where Paul spent his time.
Other historical documents as well and brief mentions in other books of the New Testament show that Mark (aka John Mark) was a very successful missionary to Egypt. And many of the disciples traveled and evangelized. Sometimes, as Luke did here in a few verses, we need to remember this was much bigger than is detailed in our Bible. As many believe Luke was writing this as Paul’s defense to Paul’s Lawyer – it makes sense that he points out that it was not just Paul preaching (and not just the message of Jesus), but also others and some still preaching the residual of John the Baptist.
Paul even speaks of the other evangelist in his letters showing this was a much bigger work than sometimes our Sunday school lessons focus on. Sometimes it is good to step back.
I heard a preacher say, “I feel like I am the only one preaching repentance, these days.” He needed to take a step back. Like Elijah when he told God he was all alone – we need to look at the bigger picture! There is always a remnant, God said to Elijah. Here is Luke we see there are always others out evangelizing and doing missions work.
Even here, we are surrounded by like people. Less than one percent of the follower here ever click the like button – but this blog is well visited and we are not alone. We should always keep in mind, and in our prayers, our global community and our mission to save lives.
Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!