Morning my friends. The Lord has reminded me of 3 words which I posted in 2020 which started with a post called “Awake Awake”. This post is a warning that the Lord God is a God who will judge righteously. We are called as followers of Jesus to stand for truth, justice and righteousness and not conform to this world. It’s a call to be ready and persevere in the times we are in. Trust in God.
I am re-posting these words again as I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so. Please read them again or for the first time. I hope they bless you and speak to us all in some way for God’s glory and to advance His Kingdom. Perhaps there is a word in season for someone that will speak to their heart today.
The second post that linked to Awake Awake was The Heavenly Steed which talks of Jesus’ second coming and the glorious horse that bears Him. A reminder that Jesus is Lord and is coming again. The time is set and will not be delayed. He is the King of Glory. It’s a call to salvation for those who do not yet know Jesus as Lord. Call on Him whilst He is near and there is time.
The third word in the series is Take hold of today – Make it count which reminds us as followers of Christ that we are called to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus and do His good works. The power of the Holy Spirit is at work in each one of us who has been born again into the Kingdom of God through faith in Jesus. One day we will each give an account to our loving Master Jesus.
Did you collect stickers as a child? These are two stickers I put in a bible given to me in 1976 by Glenrothes Baptist Church when I was a young girl. I’ll stress the young 😊
Two simple instructions:
1. Follow Jesus
2. Read the book of God
If you asked me for advice today then I don’t think I could put it any better than that. It’s served me well for the last 45 years. Follow Jesus and read God’s Word. Simples as they say 😊
We sometimes have a tendency to over complicate things and then can’t see the wood from the trees. It’s good to remind ourselves of simple truths which help us and bring us back on track when we get a bit lost, discouraged or wander away from God and His plan.
2 simple instructions that we can all apply.
Are you following Jesus? Have you submitted your life to Him as Lord? If not then there is no greater joy. If you have-are you still following His leading? Walking in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit.
Are you reading (or listening) to the Word of God, the bible for yourself? Do you know sound doctrine? There’s no substitute for studying the bible for yourself. Sure we have appointed teachers in the church to help us with our understanding, there are great books, teaching manuals, guides etc out there to help us but don’t neglect to read and study the Word of God for yourself.
My friend Heather told me this little verse which was passed on to her;
The bible is a mine of gold, of precious gems and wealth untold. Read now and pray that you may find, rich treasures for your heart and mind. Amen 🙏🏾
“Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way.” Acts 19:8-9
In these bible verses we discover another barrier or stumbling block to being open minded. It’s an attitude called “stubbornness”. Ouch.
Paul had travelled to Ephesus and was preaching in the synagogue about Jesus. He persevered for 3 months until the stubbornness of some in the Synagogue caused him to leave and continue his preaching elsewhere in the city.
What does it really mean to be stubborn? I’m sure that we have all encountered people who we would describe as stubborn but do we really recognise what it is and how dangerous a characteristic it is. Have you ever been called Stubborn? I know I have.
One of the dictionary definitions is:
“having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”
In other words there is compelling evidence for you to change your position and it’s for your benefit, but you refuse to do so.
Other similar expressions to describe people who are stubborn are – “headstrong, obstinate, wilful”. It’s definitely not a characteristic which is mentioned as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
My father in law tells the story of his daughter and his Dad (who were both stubborn people) getting into a deadlock over taking her medicine. She knew it would make her better but she refused to take it. Both sat either side of a table with the medicine in the middle refusing to move until one of them backed down. It lasted hours. In that situation one was determined and one was being stubborn.
If someone calls me stubborn then I have learnt to carefully consider the context in which they are saying it. Is it justified? The word “stubborn” can get bandied about as an accusation (wrongly) when someone just wants you to do what they say or want. If you refuse you are labelled stubborn.
The question to perhaps consider is this. Is there a good and valid reason and solid argument for me to change my mind? Is the evidence being presented credible and weighty. If it is and I’m not changing my position then why is that? Am I just being stubborn? If so, I need to do something about that attitude.
If on the other hand, there isn’t a good reason or argument to change and I am not convinced by the reasoning or evidence then I will stand firm, remain steadfast and not change or compromise. Being steadfast in my beliefs is not the same as being stubborn. Steadfast or stubborn…there is a difference.
Pride and stubbornness are often linked together and in my last post I considered being a A Know it all? Pride and thinking we know it all can make us stubborn. Does pride lead to stubbornness or stubbornness to pride.
So what did Paul go on to say to the Ephesians in his letter to them. He encouraged them to be humble.
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future”. Ephesians 4:2-4
He also encouraged them to resist the enemy, his accusations and lies and to be steadfast in their faith.
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness “ Ephesians 6:13-14
“Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.” Acts 18:24-26
We have a saying at work that we use a lot as a balance and check:
“You don’t know what you don’t know”.
Think about that saying for a moment.
It’s demonstrated here in the story of Apollos. He didn’t know what he didn’t know until two fellow believers told him and gave him a more full understanding of faith and explained the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes, we are deficient in our knowledge, but until we discover that or someone points it out to us, we are blissfully unaware. We think we are fully informed but we may not be. As a lawyer it makes me consider and research carefully before giving a client advice in case there’s something I have missed.
There are some keys we can learn from these verses.
Apollos knew the Scriptures. He had been taught about Jesus and he taught others. What he taught was correct but it wasn’t the whole story, He had limited knowledge. Whoever had introduced Apollos to faith had limited knowledge too because he only knew what he had been taught up to that point.
You will only learn as much as your current teacher knows.
Aquila and Priscilla had been given a more complete teaching. They had been with Paul and learnt from him. When they heard Apollos speaking publicly they realised that he was lacking in knowledge. They didn’t just leave him in ignorance though but they acted. They didn’t leave Apollos in the dark. Instead they took him aside and explained things more fully to him.
Note that Aquila and Priscilla didn’t publicly shame Apollos. They didn’t flaunt their knowledge or act in a superior way. They took him aside these verses say and so would have explained things privately to him. This was wise and respectful. It also meant that they didn’t squash his enthusiasm and his gifting. He was already an eloquent speaker.
Let us also be careful how we correct those who may not be as mature in faith or have more limited knowledge. We don’t want to be responsible for squashing the gift within them or dampening their enthusiasm in the wrong way. We also need to understand their current level so as not to overwhelm them and make things too difficult to grasp.
As we considered in the last post about Being Open-Minded it seems that Apollos was just that. It was to his benefit and then the benefit of others that he listened, was teachable and then went on to share with others what he had learnt.
I pray that today I won’t consider myself a know it all but will be willing to be shown a more excellent way when I am deficient or lacking in knowledge and understanding of God.
“That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” Acts 17:10-12
In my last post I reflected on portraying God correctly –Portraying God and checking our sources to ensure that what we believe and then tell others about God is right and not a misrepresentation.
Being open-minded is one way to help us do that. The dictionary defines “open-minded” as being “willing to consider new ideas or opinions which are different to our own in an unprejudiced way.”
Paul and Silas came preaching a new message to the Jews in Berea. Paul taught weekly in their synagogue that Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews were waiting for. Jesus had come as Messiah in a way that the Jews were not expecting but Paul showed them from the Scriptures that the Messiah had to suffer and die. Paul and Silas discussed their beliefs with the people openly and the Bereans’ response to them can help us.
Firstly, the people were willing to listen to what was being said and taught by Paul and not just assume that they knew it all already. How often are we encouraged to listen and consider what others are saying or believe rather than interrupt (before they finish) and jump straight in with our own views and opinions. Hearing people out fully is respectful and can avoid misunderstanding. We can make assumptions otherwise which are not correct.
Next, they wisely didn’t just accept that what Paul taught was true. Paul was a very learned man. A Pharisee who had studied Jewish law and teachings. He would most certainly have been respected by the Bereans. How often can we be tempted to just accept what is put out there as “truth” especially if it comes from someone with a reputation or famous, it sounds good and our emotions can be subtly manipulated without us realising it. The Bereans tested what was preached and being taught against the Scriptures – the original source which they trusted as being correct.
Paul didn’t mind being tested by them or others either. He encourages it. In his letter to the Thessalonians he says “but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Paul was confident in whathe believed and preached and welcomed debate. It rings warning bells when someone doesn’t want an open discussion or debate or challenges about their beliefs or teachings which they want you to accept.
These people were also eager to find out the truth. These were people who wanted to know. They had enquiring minds and a desire to know the truth. I like to think of them as treasure seekers. They were seeking the pearl of greatest price.
There is a danger in just accepting what we hear or read because we don’t want to make the effort to look and search things out for ourselves..being spoon fed is dangerous. Testing requires us to be active and not passive. We need to actively seek out the truth for ourselves. Jesus said “Seek and you will find”.
Lord Jesus help us to follow the Bereans’ example and be open minded, willing to listen and eager to search out the truth by testing what we are taught and being ready to give an answer for what we believe and the hope we have in you our Saviour and Lord.