Acts 18:1-17 tells us of Paul’s evangelistic labors in Corinth. As with any evangelistic endeavor, opposition will always be present. In this case, Paul was being opposed by the Jews resulting in his turning to the Gentiles. Based on Paul’s affection for his countrymen, I can only imagine how he must have felt. God graciously intervenes as verses 9-10 tell us:
“9And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”
The last 8 words are the key words in these verses. God communicates to Paul that He has people in Corinth that He has chosen for salvation. Therefore, Paul is to continue preaching the gospel because that is the means to His end – the redemption of His elect. So preach Paul and don’t be afraid!
Today, I had a very recognizable encounter with God’s sovereign grace. I am somewhat of a planner by nature, so I had my day planned out. After my devotion time, I decided to pray. In my prayers, I mentioned that I knew I had a list of things to do, but I said, “Father, if you decide to override my list for Your namesake, then direct my steps and show me what you want me to do. If you want me to open my mouth for your glory, then let it be and guide my words.”
I went running down on Town Lake at about 11:00 AM….about 3 hours later than I had planned. Upon returning to my car, I noticed my front left tire was nearly flat. So I immediately thought, “I didn’t plan for this. I have too much to do today.” Then my prayer came to mind. I quickly saw my list being overridden. So I went to the closest gas station and put air in my tire. I live north of the city and I was downtown at this point. I make my way to I-35 North and notice tons of traffic. The University of Texas football game was today and people were coming in droves. So I took an alternate route through downtown. Upon getting there, the street I was going to take was blocked off due to the Pecan Street Festival. Another detour! Great! So I have to take the long way to my side of town fearing that my tire would run out of air completely before I made it to a Firestone or Discount Tire.
I made it to Discount Tire and was told that I needed a new tire and it would be an hour before it was done. I had no other reasonable options at this point, so I had my car serviced. After that, I ran to the bank and then to the gas station, which was across the street from Discount Tire. As I’m pumping my gas, a young man comes up to me and offers his promo cd to me and encouraged me to buy his full length cd when it drops later this year. I failed to mention earlier that I had a backpack full of tracts in my car. I have copies of Reach Life Ministries’ Before You Die CD tract.
After he tells me about his music, I grab a CD tract and offer it to him. He immediately rejects it and tells me he’s not with “that gospel stuff” but believes in God. “That gospel rap is corny. It really don’t reach the streets like my music. This is for church folk.” So we began to talk about the gospel itself and not the music. As we conversed, he told me he’d just gotten out of the penitentiary after 5 years. What a great lead in to using the Law to witness. So I hit on that.
The main issue that kept popping up was the validity of the Bible. So I hit on that as well. He told me that many Muslims were trying to convert him while he was in the penitentiary, but he never felt inclined to go that route. We discussed the nature of God and His distinct identity. This young man thought Allah and Yahweh were the same. It struck him by surprise when I told him otherwise. Next, I guided the conversation to justice, grace and mercy and forgiveness – the cross and Jesus’ finished work. He got really quiet, then he got agitated and tried to cut me off, but we stayed on track. As I continued to talk about his sin and the just penalty for it and Christ being the only way, I noticed his eyes welling up. The spiritual battle was intense, but I was at perfect peace and stood confidently on the authority of my risen Savior.
Our conversation eventually came to an end and this time he accepted the CD tract. I wrote my contact info on there and extended the invitation to him to call me or e-mail me. We gave each other a pound and left.
What an answer to prayer! The Lord rearranged my Saturday for His glory and my good. I was so encouraged after that! What’s even more telling is that the young man told me he used to witness like I was doing, but fell off. He said his time in the penitentiary forced him to think about what is really true. In all actuality, he’s confused and dead in his sin. It’s obvious the Lord is extending grace to this young man by sovereignly rearranging my day and arranging our meeting just so he could hear this glorious gospel. If you remember, join me in praying for Ray. That’s his name. He is a father and a husband.
Paul’s response to God’s encouragement : “And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” (Acts 18:11)
Reader, remember God has many people in your city. You are chosen not only as a recipient of grace, but also as an extender of God’s grace through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
Grace & Peace,