Acts 22:3-4a Zealous For, But Not Following

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.

Acts 13:52 Joy Amidst Persecution

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.

Acts 8:4 Persecution Can Work For The Good

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Acts 8:4

When problems arise due to belief or choices made, many will abandon the beliefs. Others will choose to move away. When they move, they will carry with them their traditions and beliefs to wherever they move.

Some will keep those beliefs in the new location. Many will abandon the beliefs, because they do not want the same problems in the new place. They are seeking a new identity, rather than being bold with who they are.

After Stephen was killed, the persecution against the church increased greatly. Many believers moved to new locations to escape the persecution. Wherever they went they continued to spread the gospel message.

Persecution is something Jesus had promised will occur. Very few people look forward toward persecution and try to avoid it. It is often seen as something completely bad.

It is common to hear of believers complaining of persecution for their beliefs. They rise up and fight back, rather than just keep spreading the gospel message.

While it is terrible to go through persecution, it can get people to move to somewhere new. The moving will open new doors to spread the gospel message. Regardless of where a believer lives, there are people who need to hear the message of Jesus. Rather than staying and complaining about the persecution, one can seek to find new people to tell the message to.

God is willing and able to use persecution for His good. If the persecution had not occurred in the New Testament, the message of Jesus would not have spread to the whole world. As believers choose to keep preaching the word of God wherever they go, the church will continue to grow and have an influence in this world.

Everyday you will go to some place that has people who need to hear the gospel message. You may have times where you have to move to a new location for some reason. Regardless of where you are or why you are there, spread the gospel message. Seek to stay true to who you are in Jesus and let others know about Him.

Do not fear persecution and hide and be silent, but allow God to use it to be His witness in this world. Allow God to move you to new places to let new people know about His great love and salvation He will provide.

Today I pray that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that God will give you strength in persecution; that you will spread the gospel message wherever you are; and that you will allow God to use you to be His witness.

Jeremiah 26:14 Not Fighting Back

Hands raised up

As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Jeremiah 26:14 

Having personal rights is a demand most people in America make and many people around the world desire have those rights. People want to be able to have their own freedom to make their own choices without any consequences.

Giving up those rights is not easy for most people to do. They will fight back anyone who fights against their rights or attempts to take them away. Most will just fight back with words, while some will physically try to fight back. Many court cases are all about the loss of some right or freedom.

Jeremiah had a harsh word from God to the people. As he gave the message, the people were very angry with him. Many wanted to kill him. Jeremiah stated that he was in their hands and that they could do with him whatever they felt was best to be done.

Jeremiah had given up any of his rights as a citizen when he spoke before the leaders of Israel. He put himself in God’s hands.

Very often believers will physically or verbally fight for their rights to say or do something. They will get angry with those who fight back or persecute them, rather than just trusting God through the situation and allowing God to get His own vengeance.

Jesus never fought back or talked back to those who came against Him, with the exception of the Pharisees, who were supposed to be the God fearing leaders. He allowed the people to do what they thought was right, even up to the point of the crucifixion.

Today believers still have a message that many will hate to hear. Some will persecute believers because of the message. Instead of fighting back, believers must allow God to be in control and trust Him through whatever happens. All that needs to be done is loving the enemy and sharing God’s message of love.

You will have days when you need to be a witness of Jesus to this world and the world will not like your message. There may come persecution, maybe with just words or physically. Either way it comes you have a choice as to how you react to it.

Put on the character of Jesus and Jeremiah and do not fight back. Keep showing God’s love and trust God to get you through the situation. God is watching and will take vengeance as needed.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that God will remove fear of this world from your heart; that you will speak God’s message boldly; and that God will give you favor with those you speak to. 

Jeremiah 20:9 Speak It Out Loud

Campfire at night

But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. Jeremiah 20:9 

There are times when a person has some really good news or some very interesting news that they ‘need’ to share with someone. He will quickly get on the phone to call some friends to tell them about the news. Everywhere the person goes, he continues to talk about the news.

Watch the newscasts and there are times where there is an article titled with ‘breaking news’. It is very important news to hear about in something that most people are interested in. No one is ashamed to bring out the news or talk about it.

Jeremiah had been given a message by God. As he proclaimed it, he was being severely persecuted. He wanted to stop talking about the news, yet, was unable to do so. The message he had was like a fire shut up in his bones and he just had to tell people about it.

When a believer has a solid connection and experience with God, he will want to tell someone about it. When he realizes the great love of God for all people and how lost people are without Jesus, he will want to tell people about Jesus.

Not proclaiming the message about Jesus will not be an option because it will burn within the heart to tell others about Him. Fear of ridicule and persecution will not be able to keep a person from talking. His great love for God and for others will propel him into speaking more and more with no fear.

The world does not want you to talk about sin or Jesus. They will do what they can to stop you from giving the needed message.

Do not let fear of this world stop you from speaking. Have the heart of God for the lost people in this world. Point people to Jesus every day for every situation in their lives. Let them know that there is a God who loves them and can give them real life that will last for eternity, that God will give them a purpose for this life.

The world needs to hear about Jesus. You have to be one who will tell them. Get the message out today.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will have the love of God for other people; that God will give you boldness to speak His word; that you will tell others about Jesus; and that God will remove fear of this world as you proclaim His word.