Today’s reading in THE Story begins on page 415 with the words, “After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.” It ends on page 419 with these words, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Acts 18:1-11; 1Thess. 1:1-10, 2:1-8, 17-20, 3:1-13, 4:16-18, 5:16-28
The first words in our reading today tell it all!
1 Thessalonians 1:4-8 (NIV) 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia–your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,
Like the bell on a Sunday morning in a small village or town, sounding to every ear that “Worship is about to begin,” so the lives of the Thessalonians, their faith in Christ, their works prompted by love were “ringing out” to the neighboring world “the LORD’s Message”.
In this unfinished world, we are the hands of Christ. In this world that is waiting to hear the good news, we are the voice of Christ announcing to every ear that Christ, the Son of God, has come, suffered, died and rose from the dead! Jesus promised the first eye witnesses of the resurrection,
Acts 1:8 (NIV) “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Luke 24:47 (NIV) “…repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
It started in Jerusalem, it quickly, like a YouTube video gone viral, the Gospel went out putting sinners to death, and bringing to life again, a new creation in Christ.
The calendar in your office or kitchen displays that time has passed since that first century, BUT the evidence that Christ is still alive, living in our world today through His church, through us, is greater today than ever before.
More than 2 billion people alive today call Jesus Lord and THEIR Savior. Imagine what that could mean to the unbelieving world today. We are three years away from reaching the entire world in Jesus’ name…IF each of us, who believe, who have been charged with the command to “Go and make disciples of all nations” reach just one soul this year and one soul next year.
By the numbers, this is a job that can be done. By the love of the crucified and risen one, it is a task of love that must be done for the sake of the lost.
It’s time we got to work. So where will you start? Follow the early church’s example and methodology. They started in their homes. They moved through their neighborhoods. And as they shared their faith, they connected people to Jesus and the movement of the 11, became 500, then thousands, in barely a month. 11, 500, 3000 (were added on the day of Pentecost), more than 3500 all in the first 50 days and it started with the 11.
What could happen if all 2 billion of us, began praying for the Holy Spirit to use us to speak and act in the name of Christ to the people we know today who are NOT connected to Jesus?
I know that NOTHING will happen without you and me, but I promise that with the Holy Spirit we can share our faith and lives with an unbelieving world in Christ’s name.
Help us, Holy Spirit, to hold out the word of life—not that we may boast on the day of Christ, but that the lost and erring may come to believe. Give us Your grace, O God, that when it is required of us to be poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from our faith, give us faithful hearts and lives to rejoice that we may suffer for the sake of Christ, and live not for ourselves, but for Him, who died and was raised for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.