When the Apostle Paul was alone in Athens, as recorded in Acts 17, he found himself in the busy market place full of idols in the streets of Athens, far away from home and a long way from Christian friends. It’s in that context that we are given an example of the fruit of biblical preparation and compassion as Paul delivered a free-speech platform and proclaimed the God of heaven and earth and His Son, Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.More Information
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Read Acts 11:19-26
Do you recall what David did after he killed Goliath? God had already appointed the young shepherd as the next king of Israel. Most young conquerors would have located the nearest Macy’s and tried on crowns. Not David. He went right back to the Judean hills to keep his father’s sheep—a true shepherd with a servant’s heart.
Saul kept a similar vigil in Tarsus. He waited patiently until Barnabas tapped him on the shoulder. Only then did he step into that critical, highly visible role of leadership. I find nothing more attractive in a gifted and competent leader than authentic humility. Saul’s giftedness was framed in the crucible of solitude where he had been honed and retooled by the living Christ.
The evangelist Dwight L. Moody, although unschooled, was a gifted man of God preaching in Birmingham, England, far back in 1875. A noted congregational minister and well-respected theologian, Dr. R. W. Dale, co-operated in that enormously successful campaign. After watching and listening to Moody preach and witnessing the incredible results of the ministry of that simple man, Dr. Dale wrote in his denominational magazine, “I told Mr. Moody that the work was most plainly of God, for I could see no real relation between him and what he had done. Moody laughed cheerily and said, ‘I should be very sorry if it were otherwise.’” No defensiveness, no feeling of being put upon, no embarrassing uneasiness. Moody was the most surprised of anyone that God chose to use him so mightily.
That was Saul. NO wonder Barnabas wanted Saul to lead the program in Antioch. What a duet they sang! For an entire year these two men served side by side, and God was greatly glorified.
I love Warren Wiersbe’s succinct definition of ministry: “Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.” Saul and Barnabas could have sat for that portrait. Why did Saul and Barnabas experience such pleasure in serving together? No competition. No battle of egos. No one threatened by the other’s gifts. No hidden agendas. No unresolved conflicts. Their single-minded goal was to magnify Christ. It didn’t matter if the crowds multiplied to thousands or shrank to only a few. All that mattered was that Christ be proclaimed and worshipped.
Praise God for the power of two!
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Dealing with the Devil the way Jesus did shows us a great principle of all true interpretation: Scripture must be explained by comparison to other Scripture. Jesus used God’s Word hidden in His heart—accurately memorized and understood—to fend off Satan’s lure to sin.
Call me old-fashioned or idealistic, but my passionate plea is that we restore the importance of character. It’s been buried long enough. It belongs first on our list when searching for employees in the workplace. It must be a nonnegotiable among those we place into leadership positions in our schools, our cities, our state...and, absolutely, in our churches and in our nation.
When you hear something nearly true, or partly true, it’s easy to accept it as true. That’s the thing about deception: sometimes it’s hard to spot, as small as uneasiness or something not sitting quite right.