I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, Acts 22:3-4a
There are many people are extreme zealots for certain issues or groups. They will do whatever it takes to support that issue or group. Some of these issues can be good, while others can be very bad.
Often it is looked down upon a person who is extremely zealous about something. People desire others to walk a middle ground, rather than be extreme.
Paul tells the people that he was just as zealous for God as they were. He persecuted believers in Jesus.
There are some people who are very zealous for God and His word, but are zealous in the wrong way. They are living life their own way and doing things the way they think God wants them to do, but are actually not following God’s leading.
Some in the church will hold to old customs and traditions, persecuting newer believers. On the opposite side, there will be new believers who persecute the older ones, desiring only new things.
In both cases, it can be common that they are not truly following God. They are doing things their own way as Paul did in persecuting believers of Jesus. It is easy to be zealous for God, but not following His way or leading.
Every believer needs to seek what God desires of him and then do that thing. He must be zealous for God, but in a way that he is doing only what God asks of him.
As a believer, you must be zealous for God. Be willing to stand up for God in every situation that you face. Do not be afraid to stand strong and true for God.
However, as you stand up for God, make sure that you are doing what God desires. Do not allow yourself to do things out of personal, selfish ambition for God. Paul was zealous for God, but in the wrong way.
Humble yourself before God and do what He desires, building His kingdom in His way and in His timing. Being zealous for God is great as long as it is guided by His Holy Spirit.
Today I pray that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will know what God desires of you; that you will be zealous for God and His ways; that you will be His witness in this world; and that you will only do what God calls you to do.
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52
When trouble hits a person, most people get depressed or discouraged. During attempts to accomplish something, it is common for a person to run into some roadblocks. Often this discourages the person and he gives up in order to try something different.
Joy is rarely seen in a person in the midst of major problems. Instead of joy one will see anger, frustration, depression, or fear. The focus or desire is often lost or given up.
As the disciples were preaching the gospel, many Jewish leaders were against them and pushed them out. The disciples left the area with joy and with God’s Holy Spirit.
The world does not like to hear the gospel message of Jesus. There are also many ‘believers’ in the church who get offended at hearing the full truth in God’s word. It means that they are wrong and must change. These people will often push out or persecute true believers who are preaching the whole of God’s word.
Just as the world gets depressed and discouraged, many believers will also get depressed and discouraged under persecution. This occurs because people have the wrong focus. Too many believers expect an easy, problem free life as a believer. Jesus actually promised the exact opposite.
Those who are going through trouble and persecution can have joy knowing that they are walking the path God has for them and that God is with them. During persecution, the believer can pick up and move on to the next location to reach others who are willing to listen. They do not need to stay stuck in one place, wallowing in despair of failure.
The joy of God’s salvation and presence gives the believer strength to move on despite all troubles.
As you are a witness for Jesus there will come times of trouble or persecution. Do not allow yourself to be discouraged or to give up. Look to God for your joy and strength.
Remember how much persecution Jesus went through for you. Remember that Jesus promised persecution. But also remember that God has promised you eternal life in the end with no more suffering.
Walk with joy and God’s Holy Spirit moving forward to a new place. Find new places to be a witness. Seek out others who will listen. Do not stop or give up. God is with you.
Today I pray that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will be a witness for Jesus; that God will fill you with His joy; that you will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit; and that God will give you strength during persecution and troubles.