DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
Acts 13:48-52 (ESV)
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
At the end of the youth camp in Vietnam, we took all of the children (the same ones from yesterday’s zombie apocalypse and more) to a large water park in a neighboring city of Ho Chi Minh City. The kids had been looking forward to it all week. As we rolled into the parking lot of the park that morning, we could see their cute faces brimming over with excitement.
And thankfully enough, the children got along well and were having a blast with their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The day ran swimmingly, all until about 1PM, when we noticed that the sky had turned an ominous shade of gray and felt the grumbling of a rain cloud from a distance. Rain was coming. Before we knew it, it began to downpour over the park. I turned to the local staff to watch for a cue, expecting them to signal for everyone to head indoors. Instead, I witnessed the leaders embrace the warm rainfall and head towards the biggest water slide in the park with the children. I followed their example and as I zipped down the slide, I realized that the rainfall was not harsh and cold, but surprisingly gentle, warm, and even enjoyable. At first, I thought the rain would be a setback and the cause of an early end to our perfect day. However, to our delight, it did not stop us from continuing in a memorable day of fellowship.
In our passage today, Paul and Barnabus also face an unwelcome rain cloud. We read that the two had been running a fruitful ministry, through which many Gentiles (the very people they had journeyed to reach) were coming to faith. But, when the Jewish leaders caught wind of this, they ended Paul and Barnabus’ “successful” ministry and drove the two out of Pisidia. Instead of seeing this as a setback to their ministry, the two became filled with the Holy Spirit and continued onto Iconium and Lystra to preach the gospel. The persecution Paul and Barnabus faced was no gentle rain and a “setback,” at the least. However, we see that the filling of the Holy Spirit produced supernatural joy and perseverance in the midst of trial and suffering. Many times, when we feel hard-pressed, we are tempted to quit early. This morning, let’s recognize the unforeseen rain clouds in our lives and ask for the filling of the Holy Spirit to press on.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 11
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV): Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Questions to Consider
- The writer is probably not prescribing blind happiness, which would be ignorance. What type of joy is he talking about?
- When I think about the “will of God,” I usually spend my time pondering what my next step in life is. However, what is the will of God for all believers in this passage?
- The joy of the Lord comes from our intimate relationship with Him and the promises of God that He will never forsake us (Deut. 31:8). It takes active faith and trust to be joyful in suffering.
- To choose to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in all circumstances. If read quickly, this can seem overly simplistic and impossible. However, for a believer who is on the journey of faith, this is a beautiful calling that will bring glory to God.
As you think about your day, did you experience God’s presence and promise over seemingly setbacks in life? Let’s ask the Lord to continue to build our faith in Him.