29 November 2017

Good morning and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast. This Saturday is Love Sheffield, when we gather as church and go out onto the streets around Crookes, Walkley, Crosspool and Broomhill giving out mince pies, singing carols and picking up litter. It’s a huge amount of fun and a great way to put a smile on people’s faces when they realise it really is for free with no strings attached. Why not join us at 10.30am at church on Saturday; you will be home in time for lunch.

REFLECTION

Yesterday we looked at being ‘religious’ and how fear and duty can shape our lives. Today our reading is from Acts 18:1-11. Here we see that Paul is in a fearful place. He is afraid, tired and probably a little fed up. V9-10…

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

Paul had been arrested in Philippi and escorted from the city, driven out of Thesalonica and Berea by an angry mob, had no response in Athens and had no breakthrough in the synagogue in Corinth. He had given up on the Jews and gone instead to the gentiles… the non Jews… to foreigners.

God meets with Paul in a vision, “do not be afraid, keep on speaking.” Did Paul allow fear and failure to mark his future… his next step as a Christian? Would he be put off because the life that God had for him was hard? No, Paul was alert, prayerful and kept going despite his feelings and circumstances.

Maybe today you feel like giving up. Maybe fear or past failure or feeling fed up has caused you to take your eyes off of Jesus. Pray today… open your Bible… seek God and he will speak into your current situation.

The Lord said to Paul, “do not be afraid, keep on speaking.” The question that I have for you today is: does fear prevent you from speaking about Jesus? Maybe you have never had the confidence to speak about him to people outside the church. When I first became a Christian I knew how hostile I had been to Christians. I was afraid that I would meet someone like me… Shortly after coming to faith, God arranged for me to be away from family and friends, living with a number of non Christians. As I was figuring out what faith meant for my life I couldn’t escape people interested in what was going on inside me.

Maybe you have had a Thessalonica and Berea experience… you have spoken about Jesus in the past and encountered opposition….
Maybe you have had an Athens moment. Had friends who on the outside were interested in spiritual things, even happy to talk about Jesus, but their hearts remained hard and nothing you said seemed to make a difference.

Or maybe like Paul in Corinth you are doing the same thing that you have always done, going to the same type of people that you or others have seen great breakthroughs in – but at the moment… nothing.

God says to you.. and to me… don’t be afraid… keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you!

God loves us… oh how he loves us… but it doesn’t stop there. He loves everyone you live with, he loves everyone on your street, in your workplace, at school and university, in the hospitals and the council offices and he wants the world to know that life begins at the cross. That God has love and life and abundance for them. That relationships can be transformed that families can be healed, fears can be broken, addictions defeated and life transformed… the question is who will go for him, who can he send?

Will he hear that whisper in your heart today, “here I am send me!”?

“Here I am lord, send me!”

PRAYER

Father, I ask that you would give me an opportunity to share my faith with someone today. I ask that I would be able to talk to someone about Jesus, about the difference that you have made in my life. I ask that you might put someone across my path who is hurting and needing a friend and that I would have the courage to pray with them, there and then in that moment.
Here I am lord… send me. Amen? Amen!

READING: ACTS 18:1-11

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’

Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshipper of God. Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptised.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.