September 1, 2019
Pastor Ricky Smith
We’re going to worship through studying God’s Word in Acts chapter 16. We have been walking through the book of Acts together, and one thing that’s just been amazing to me as we’ve watched this journey is, it’s been fascinating to watch Paul. Paul is this guy who had this miraculous conversion as he came to Christ, and we see him grow and swell as a leader in the church. We see him begin to be the catalyst, really, to fulfilling the Acts 1:8 commission from God to take the Gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
He becomes that vehicle that God used. We walked through the first missionary journey, and we walked through Acts 15 where, through the Jerusalem Council, the church came to an agreement together on how the Gospel would advance. And now, he’s in the second missionary journey, and his story has just been one of amazement.
To me, as I read his story, it reminds me of this classic Dr. Seuss story. In fact, I would say this is my second favorite Dr. Seuss story. It’s called Oh, the Places You’ll GoI My first and my favorite is One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, but this is my second favorite. I’m sure you’ve read the story, but it illustrates how, in this life, we go places, and sometimes life takes us into really high moments of success, and sometimes it takes us into really low moments of failure.
We don’t really know what’s going to come next, and this story that Dr. Seuss wrote emphasizes the importance of making wise choices. I think the story is great. I’m not criticizing the story, but I think it misses a really, really important point. Yes, it is true that life will take me on this journey of highs and lows, and we’ve seen this illustrated in the life of Paul. Yes, it is true that a lot of times the choice of my attitude that I have in these situations certainly makes a difference. And certainly it is true that the choices that I make can sometimes trigger some really low points or really high points.
But the missing ingredient is the sovereign work of God guiding me. In fact, this is a truth of Scripture, that if I trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, in all my ways acknowledge Him, He will direct those paths. Oh, the places I’ll go when I follow Him! And we see Paul in his obedience.
In fact, last week, we looked in the commonly called “Macedonian call” where he responds to this vision that, “You need to go. The people of Macedonia are crying out. ‘Come over here and help us.'” So now, we pick up in Acts chapter 16, verse 35. There’s this immediate move because what he understood is that he was an everyday missionary carrying hope to the world, and that’s what we are as well.
We are everyday missionaries who carry hope to the world.
So for Paul, he goes to the fields or to the shores or to the synagogues or to the prison, and today we’re even going to see him go to a river. Oh, the places you will go!
I. Carry the Gospel
So, the first point is our commitment to carry the Gospel. Let’s begin reading together in Acts chapter 16, verses 11 through 15, and what I hope today is, I just want to share with you some things that God taught me as I studied through this passage, and prayerfully, he’ll teach you some things as well. So let’s begin reading together Acts chapter 16, verses 11 through 15:
11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
I think there are some important things for us to note, both about Paul and about Lydia. Let’s focus on Paul for just a minute. When I looked at this, this is the thing that I began to pay attention to: God works through us. He works through us, and we must position ourselves for Gospel conversations.
Let’s look and see what Paul did. So, going back to the previous verses, he hears this Macedonian call, and we see immediately in verse 11 almost this sense of urgency. He wasted no time to go on this mission. Oh, the places you’ll go! “I’m going to go exactly where God told me to.”
Do you know there are other examples in Scripture of people who heard God direct them somewhere, and they chose not to go? Remember the story of Jonah? We know how that works out when we don’t go to places were God sends us. Here, Paul in an act of obedience, steps out to simply obey and go, and he wasted no time in doing so.
I think it’s important to note, what did he do? He travels, he gets to Macedonia, he spends some time getting the lay of the land. And if you remember, we’ve seen Paul over and over again, when he gets into a new community, where does he go? He starts at the synagogue. That doesn’t happen here. Why? It’s likely because there’s not even a synagogue in this place.
In their culture, there had to be 10 men, at least, to establish a synagogue. We don’t see that here. What do we see instead? We see Paul getting the lay of the land, hearing there are some women who are chasing after God praying over by the river. “I’m going to go there.” Notice what Paul did. Paul goes to the place that just made sense where he can start having conversations with people that at least have some interest in religion or faith.
We see about Lydia here that she is a worshiper of God. She’s not yet a convert, but at least she’s interested. We’re going to talk more about her in a minute. Right now, I want our attention to be on Paul. Paul quickly obeyed, went where God told him to, and he looks out for places that were logical, and they just made sense.
A. He works through us: We must position ourselves for Gospel conversations
Let me ask you a question. When you look at your life, when you evaluate how the Spirit of God speaks to you, how the Spirit of God directs you, how can you listen to the Spirit of God guiding you so that you can position yourself to have these conversations? What does that look like? As you’re going throughout your normal day, how do you even open your eyes to see and listen so that you can be put in a position to have Gospel conversations?
But when you do, I need you to be forewarned, and be careful. Yes, it is our responsibility to carry hope, but it is God’s responsibility to work in the hearts of men. You can’t save anybody. If you hang out around church people enough, there’s this unintentional phrase that you’ll hear.
Maybe somebody’s really excited because they were able to share the Gospel, and that person prayed to receive Christ. They may say, “I got somebody saved this week!” No, you did not! You do not have the ability to save anybody. It is not in your power. In fact, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.
I was actually a senior in high school on a mission trip to New York City, and there we were in a park, and we were doing survey evangelism. It was just a mechanism that we would use to engage people in Gospel conversations. And so, I remember I was in Columbus Circle on the southwest corner of Central Park, and I was working with my team that day. I shared the Gospel with somebody, and they gave their life to Christ! I walked over to my counselor, and I said, “I got me another one!” I was all proud.
I’ll never forget what the adult leader with me that day said. It’ll stick with me forever. He said, “Boy, this is not about you putting notches in your belt. That’s not what this is about. This is not about you keeping a tally and running a point system. This is not about you saving anybody. This is about you understanding that God works through you, and as you follow Him, He will position you to have conversations where you can speak His name. We can’t save anybody. We share, and God saves.”
B. He works in us: God positions us and opens our hearts
To prove that point, let’s turn our attention from Paul, who was being obedient (Oh, the places that you’ll go!) to Lydia, and here’s what we understand: First of all, He works through us, but He also works in us. God positions us to open our hearts. In fact, if you’re in the habit of writing in your Bible, underline here, if you would, in verse 14: “The Lord opened her heart.”
This is an incredibly important statement because it tells us a little bit about who God is and how He works in His sovereignty. In fact, this is the same word that was used in Luke chapter 24. We read the story of Jesus after His resurrection. He’s walking on the road to Emmaus, and if you read (I think it’s in verse 42, somewhere in that neighborhood), it uses these words that “The Lord opened the hearts of those traveling with Christ so that they could hear and see what it was that Jesus had been saying.”
This is that moment that the Holy Spirit moves and does what only He can do, because God always takes the initiative in establishing a relationship with us. He always does. John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on that last day.”
Let me ask you a question. Do you remember the day when God opened your heart? Do you remember what that was like? I can tell you for me, I was a young boy, and it was April 12, 1984, to be specific. It’s not that it’s magical that I remember that date. I just happen to remember that date. I was in church. I was sitting in the back, and the preacher (whose name was Joe Carroll that day), he preaches the sermon.
In that moment (this is important), I had heard of Jesus for a long time; I could quote the Bible verses to you. I could tell you even how to come to faith in Christ, but it was in that moment that God opened my heart. It was in that moment that He exposed to me, “Ricky, you need me.” And now it was important how I was going to respond to that reality.
I didn’t come forward that day and kneel at an altar (although that’s great to do). I actually ran out the door to my mother, who was working in the nursery that day, and I walked into the nursery. I said, “Mama, I knew Jesus in my heart.”
“Oh, my baby!” She starts crying, and she pulls out the Bible. She’s reading the Scriptures to me because her baby boy was about to ask Jesus to come into his heart. That was the moment for me that God opened my heart so that all these things that I had heard, all these things that I had experienced, now the Spirit of God had activated in my heart to see, “You need me.”
Can you remember that day? It is interesting; there are lots of different ways. God is not limited on how He opens someone’s heart. We know that He desires that all men come to know Him. 1Timothy, verses 3 and 4 say, “This is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God, our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.”
2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promises as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God, in His time, in His way, in His sovereign will, works in your life and opens your heart, just like He did with Lydia. Notice in Lydia, she was already intrigued. She was already striving to worship, trying to understand. She was meeting for prayer. But it wasn’t until Paul came and fully exposed the Gospel that the Spirit of God opened her heart, and she believed.
Maybe God works in different ways. In some, He brings us to the place where we realize, I need help. And it’s this gradual sense of unworthiness and therefore realizing, I need a Savior. That’s what it looked like in my life.
Maybe someone processes through and they’re beginning to ask really deep questions, and God draws out that thought. Maybe it’s someone who, through suffering and pain or through deep questions of trying to understand, reaches a place where he or she concludes, There’s got to be more than this. There’s got to be something greater than this. -and the love of Christ constrains us to be dissatisfied with this life and yearn for something more.
There are a lot of different ways that the Spirit of God could open our hearts. What we need to understand is, that’s not for me to know or figure out. I must be faithful to carry hope to the world. Trust the sovereign God in His time to open the hearts of people. I must live out what Jesus commanded in John chapter 12, verse 32 when he says:
John 12:32 (ESV)
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
I’ve even notice this truth in creation. So, I have gardened a lot in the past. I haven’t been able to the last couple of summers, but I will begin gardening again. Has anybody ever planted squash? Anybody? Here’s what’s fascinating about squash: It’s very difficult to pollinate squash, and if it’s not pollinated, you don’t get a vegetable. But here’s what’s interesting about the flower on the squash plant: It opens every morning at about 8:00am, and it closes every day at about 10:00am.
It repeats this process every day, opening and closing, and it is only in that moment when it opens that it can be pollinated. It’s only when God has said, “Now you can be open,” that it can grow. I even see in this natural illustration of the way the hearts of men work. “I hear the truth. I hear the Gospel. I hear the Scripture.” -but it’s the Holy Spirit in His time and in His way that He opens our hearts, and then we respond.
Paul preached to Lydia. She and her whole household responded. But God had taught Paul and he understood that he didn’t save; God did it. In fact, he even wrote later, in 1 Corinthians 3, verses 6 and 7:
I Corinthians 3:6-7 (ESV)
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
So, you and I are responsible to carry the Gospel, and God is responsible to open the hearts. You see that? It’s a powerful truth that we must understand, and in doing so, we run a risk. We run a risk that we’re going to boldly and courageously share the Gospel and get rejected. Let me tell you, it is better to live with rejection than to live with regret. I’ll choose rejection over regret any day.
It is better to live with rejection than regret.
When you walk through life and you understand, Oh, the places that you’ll go!, God has planted you, God has positioned you in your home, in your neighborhood, in your office, in your workplace, on your sports team… Wherever he has positioned you, He has put you there for a reason. And it may be a place of highs; it may be a place of lows, but in there, you are challenged to faithfully live out the Gospel, faithfully carry hope to the world.
II. Defend the Gospel
I don’t want to live with the regret that there’s somebody I love who I never shared Jesus with. I’d rather risk their rejection. So in that, we must carry the Gospel. Second, those times will then come when we have to stand to defend the Gospel. Let’s read verses 16 through 24 and see what we can learn:
16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
All right, let me just walking through what I see here. Probably a better way to translate the “spirit of divination” would be a python spirit. Now, why is that important? Understand, that’s the language that the original Greek uses, and the python was the symbol of the Delphic oracle and represented the god, Apollo, in Greek mythology, who was believed to render predictions of future events.
And so, in their culture, this is important because this helps us understand the culture and the background belief that Paul was addressing. I’ll be honest; when I first read this, those verses confused me a little bit, but Greeks and Romans, they put a lot of stock in divination. An oracle was someone who had the ability to tell the future. A commander of an army would never go to battle without first seeking the counsel of an oracle.
There was just great trust in this, and it was demon possession. We see that it was a demonic spirit. It wasn’t some attribute of the god, Apollo. No, it was the devil at work. And so, here we see Paul coming in contact with this evil spirit, and obviously, someone with this ability would have great value to someone else. I mean, it is like having gold if this was your slave.
It’s confusing at first; a demonic woman is telling the truth? They’re here to tell of God and how you can be saved? Why would Paul be upset by this? You have to understand more of the belief system of this day. In fact, she uses the phrase most high God, which, in the Old Testament is Yahweh. That is the name we attribute to God, but in this culture, in their belief system, that’s what they called Zeus.
Do you see the confusion? To me, this is a reminder that when we commit to carry hope to the world and profess the Gospel, we need to understand that there are times we have to stop and clarify terms and definitions to make sure we’re truly speaking the same language. If you’re trying to interact and share the Gospel with someone who is a Muslim and they’re saying, “Well yeah, I call him Allah and you call Him God; it’s really the same.” No, we’re not talking about the same God.
Or someone knocks on your door on Saturday morning from the Kingdom Hall, and they’re beginning to communicate. “Our bible says the same thing,” yet Jesus, we’re not talking about the same Jesus. So here, this is that moment for Paul when yes, this demonic spirit is saying, “Yes, the most high God,” but this is confusing in the culture. We’re not talking about Zeus. We’re not talking about a god. Paul is saying, “I am speaking of the one, true, living God.”
She goes on to say, “This is the most high God who is showing you the way of salvation,” and even that’s confusing to the audience, because in the Greek mindset, in the Roman world, this was a prevalent thing to say that someone is the savior. Even the emperor would say that of himself. “I am the savior of the world.” So, this language is confusing for Paul.
Paul, speaking boldly and courageously, says, “I can’t allow you to make the name of God be synonymous with your pantheistic beliefs. I can’t allow you to to bring the nature of God down to that level, where you equate Him with Zeus or Apollo. No, I must defend the truth.” Here’s what we know about God. Exodus 34:14:
Exodus 34:14 ESV
for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God
Therefore, I should have the courage to speak against evil, to defend the Gospel. The more I know God, the more I can defend Him, because I understand Him more. And I would say, the more I understand Him, the better I understand myself because I’m made in His image. That’s another sermon.
Let’s continue to move. I carry the Gospel. I defend the Gospel. There will be moments in my defense, in my commitment to carry the Gospel, that I will suffer for the Gospel. Let’s read verses 25 through 34. I love this part.
III. Suffering for the Gospel
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
Okay, get the picture. Paul and Silas were dragged, beaten, flogged, with open wounds on their backs, thrown into a prison. I can picture them and the open wounds on their backs, being pressed against a rough-hewn rock in this prison. It’s dark and they’re locked in their chains. It’s cold, it’s wet, and they’re hungry. I don’t know what you would have done. I would imagine, even as tough of a guy as I think I am, I might have started crying a little bit.
Not Paul and Silas. They start singing. They start rejoicing, even in their pain. -when everybody around them would have given them a pass. You’d have every right to mourn. You’d have every right to whine and complain right now. Just let it all out; it’s okay. They don’t do that. Instead, they start singing, even in prison. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake.
Hmm. If the faithful servants of Christ could lift up to God the voice of praise in the dungeon, those of us who are called into His service, how much more should we sing His praises? All the more reason we should shout.
Now let’s get technical for a minute. In verse 25, remember it said, “The prisoners were listening to them.” This is the Greek word epakroaomai, and it’s written in the imperfect middle tense (I told you we were going to get technical). This is why this is important: It implies that they were listening continuously to Paul and Silas.
This word is also used in 1 Samuel 15:22. It denotes that intense listening with joy. Why is that important? These down and out prisoners eagerly heard and responded to the message of God as they watched and listened to Paul and Silas sing. And here’s why this is important for you and me: How we respond to suffering speaks to those who are searching.
How we respond to suffering speaks to those who are searching.
People are watching you. You claim to know God. You claim to love God. You claim to follow God. They’re not watching you so much when you’re doing well; they’re watching to see how you resolve and respond to pain. I want to see if this God that you serve is really worth it. And how you and I respond in suffering, it speaks. It speaks loudly of who God is.
Now, I’m not going to ask you whether you passed this test or not in your life. I’m just simply encouraging you to be aware that how you speak, how you respond, who you give praise to, to me it’s an opportunity for us to realize the truth of James chapter 1: “Consider it pure joy, Brothers, when you face trials of many kinds.” -because it’s going to grow you; it’s going to mature you.
And the miracle that we see here was not reserved for Paul and Silas. The purpose of this miracle was rather, to deliver the jailer. Them being put in this painful situation was not for the purpose of being a consequence of their previous action. Oh, the places you will go! Sometimes God will lead you to points of celebration. Sometimes He will lead you into the depths of the dungeon so that His name can be glorified, because people there may need to hear.
And so, it was for the jailor here. Notice his response. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” He wanted the peace. He wanted that joy. He desired to have some of what they have. “What must I do?” But notice his question. He immediately goes to a performance-based religious system. Maybe it’s because that’s what he saw around him. Maybe that’s what those who are worshiping God portrayed in his culture. I’m not sure.
But notice Paul’s and Silas’ responses. “Believe in the Lord Jesus.” Their call, their response was not performance based. It was not to trust in some religious system. It was to put your faith, your trust, your hope in a person who desires to have a relationship with you. I believe in the Lord Jesus. That’s a verb. It’s action. It means there’s this willing, trusting response.
Truthfully, some would say this is the most succinct summary of the Gospel in all the New Testament: What must I do to be saved? Believe in the Lord Jesus. And do you notice the immediate change that happens in his life? Immediately, as he believes in response, he begins to treat these prisoners differently. He recognizes then, he sees the wounds on their backs, and he goes and expresses love and washes those wounds.
I think that’s an important thing that we could easily skip over. We’re amazed at the midnight cry and the song, but we realize this suffering was for the sake of the Gospel, so that this jailer and his house could be saved. And we notice the transformation immediately changing in this jailer, where his outlook and even seeing Paul and Silas are different.
So, I asked you a question. As you reflect in your life and in your faith and you look back to that time when the Lord opened your heart, can you identify some changes? What difference has it made in you? Are you different? I hope you can identify that you feel different. You think differently. You see people differently. And I certainly hope if you’ve been saved for any extended period of time, you can look back on this journey of faith and you can see where slowly and intentionally, the Spirit of God has continued to grow you and change you and shape you. To use the scriptural language, conform you into the image of His Son. I hope you can see that.
And I’ll just throw this out there for what it’s worth. I think some of us have been saved a little bit too long. I mean, we just get so consumed with complaining over what song we’re singing and we forget, Jesus Christ has wrecked your heart! He has saved your soul! He has rescued you from the wrath of eternity in hell, and he has set your course and future in eternity! That’s something to get excited about, Folks! That’s the difference maker. That’s the hope that we carry to the world. The difference He has made in your life, it’s big. 2 Corinthians 5:17:
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
I celebrate the changes He makes in my life, and I’ll be honest with you; sometimes even today, it’s painful as that sandpaper of the Spirit of God starts brushing off those rough edges. It hurts. For His name’s sake, we give Him the glory. Moving on.
IV. Focus on the Gospel
In suffering for the Gospel, the story begins to conclude of how Paul and Silas got into this situation. We see a renewed focus on the Gospel. Let’s read verses 35 through 40, and be done:
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
Fun fact: This is a way to prove the inerrancy of Scripture, because the word used here for the police and the magistrate, you can go back in archaeology and find that was a real title to real people. -just a fun fact.
So, Paul has this little bit of a protest. The question is not so much that he protested, because we could easily read this and get validation for whatever position we want to argue against (in which case, we miss the point). See, Paul’s protest was not for his own ego. I think we’ve seen and learned enough from Paul that he’s not an arrogant, egotistical man.
In fact, he is the opposite. He’s a willing, obedient, faithful follower of God who is on a mission to carry hope to the world. That’s what he’s doing, and he understands, Hey, when I got here a few days ago, there were no believers, and now, as a result of what God has done, Lydia and her household and the jailer and his household, there’s now this growing community of believers. And if I just leave quietly in the cover of dark, these leaders can say anything and do anything they want to about this church. I’ve got to make sure that they have a good reputation in this city.
And he understood, the only way he could resolve that was to make the same people who put him in prison publicly come out and affirm what he was saying was okay. See, Paul’s focus was on the Gospel, so it was okay for him to be huffy. It was okay for him to protest, because he was protesting in the defense and the focus of the church. That’s what he was defending.
So, I ask you some questions. This is clearly a picture of focus and intensity. It’s clearly a story of, Oh, the places that you will go! -the places that God may take you in life. We must pause and ask some questions. Am I focused on the Gospel? Am I ready to defend it? Am I seeking opportunities, allowing God to position me every day to boldly speak His name? Maybe for the first time, the Holy Spirit has opened your heart and you see you need a relationship with Jesus. What you going to do about that?
- I commit to seek out a specific person to carry on a Gospel conversation with this week.
- I recognize today that God has opened my heart to His love, and I receive His gift of life.
- I reflect on how God has changed me and choose to praise Him.
- Read Acts 16:6-15. Notice God’s direction to go to a specific place and Paul’s obedience to go. How can you listen to the Spirit guiding you and position yourself for Gospel conversations?
- Read Matthew 5:10-12. Following Jesus may lead us into places of suffering. How can we keep our focus on Him and even point others to Him in these seasons of life?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. Reflect on your faith story, and share with others how God brought you into relationship with Him. Share specific way you have noticed God change your heart since then to be more like Him.