Friday, October 30, 2020 -
In Acts 13, on Paul’s first missionary journey, he and Barnabas entered the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch on the Sabbath and were invited to give a word of exhortation to them. And so he provided them a clear explanation of the gospel message.
The following Sabbath the whole city showed up to hear the Word of God proclaimed to them through Paul. But the Jewish leaders saw the crowds and became frightened, “filled with jealousy,” we’re told. Paul was determined from that point on to preach to the Gentiles, and many believed. Verse 49 says, “and the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.” But the Jews stirred up the women of prominence and leading men of the city to “instigate a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.” This persecution and suffering was included in what Paul was referring to in his second letter to Timothy (2:11). Yet he claimed, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 2:12).
Yet what happened as a result of this persecution? Paul and Barnabas “shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them (Matthew 10:14) and went to Iconium (Acts 13:51), where Paul would be stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead (Acts 14:19). But throughout the midst of this persecution, “the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” This was in accordance to the words of Jesus, Who said, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of Me. Rejoice and be glad for your reward in heaven is great for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
“R,” who has been in prison nearly 48 years testified how since our little unit church fellowship began some eight months ago that he has never been more joyful even to the point of tears, and that we can use this time to draw close to the Lord which will increase our joy. I also testified that I have never rejoiced so much in the Lord in my entire life, as these past two years as Jesus promised in John 17:13. For God is doing a marvelous work not just in my life, but the lives of these men.
One of the things we’ve been concentrating more and more on as a group is not just praying for one another and our families, but for others in our unit. There are four men in particular who have come to ask for prayer to overcome their drug addiction. One man has asked for prayer on behalf of his “preemie” granddaughter who is struggling for her life. Others have asked us as a group to pray for them as they’ve lost their moms. We are letting each of these men know we are praying for them, and tonight we made notes for many of those we’re praying for, using Acts 19:11-23 as motivation for this. One man in our group has developed a prayer ministry walking cell by cell in the morning praying for its occupants. Another of our group has posted a paper on the bulletin board for inmates, to give him their prayer requests. All of us are expecting God to do great things. Please pray with us!