Heeding or Agitating

by Shan Reed

Acts is such an exciting book!

Peter, Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, John Mark, Silas and many others seem to be racing around telling people about Jesus, the Messiah who was resurrected.

In just the few chapters I read for today, Paul and his entourage traveled from Antioch to Cyprus, Iconium to Lystra, Pisidia to Pamphylia, Perga to Attalia, Phoenicia to Samaria, and back to Antioch.

Then they continued on to more places after that!

As a missionary, I am enthralled, challenged and encouraged by Paul’s journeys. He doesn’t sit still long, but he also is not afraid to linger. He is bold in his proclamations.

In all of the places they traveled, Paul seems to have always gone to the synagogues to preach the good news first. He knew the Jews had been waiting and watching for the Christ. He wanted them to know the good news-Jesus is the Christ!

However, as I read about Paul’s travels and his preaching again, I was reminded of two things. First, many of the Jews were not happy with his teachings about Jesus. Second, many Gentiles listened and joyfully accepted Paul’s teachings about Jesus.

The main catalyst I noticed as I read about Paul’s successes was the Holy Spirit. Starting right out in chapter 13, verse 2, the Holy Spirit’s guidance is followed:

Once they were engaged in a time of worship and fasting when the Holy Spirit spoke to them, ‘Commission Barnabas and Saul to a project I have called them to accomplish.’

From the first assignment on, Paul heeds the Holy Spirit’s directions, and God works through him. We see Paul speaking with authority and confidence to Jews and Gentiles alike, to common people and political leaders. We know from Paul’s life before he met Jesus that he was a zealous man. Now, we see his zeal tempered by the Holy Spirit’s guidance and the gospel is spreading like wildfire.

Do we understand this?

Have we learned what it means to heed the Holy Spirit’s direction?

I don’t think God meant for the Holy Spirit’s power to be limited to Paul, Barnabas, Pastor Kerry, or the person next to you in the pew. Jesus promised the disciples that after He left this earth, He would send a Counselor who would give them power.

That promise is for all of us!

I am by no means an expert in this area.

I fail, daily, to always follow the Spirit. However, I do know that when I do listen, when I follow that prompting, God does amazing things I never could have imagined and definitely couldn’t have done on my own!

How do the examples of Peter, Paul, and others challenge you to consider the Holy Spirit’s leading in your own life?