‘And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit’ ~ Acts 13:52
Paul and Barnabas traveled extensively going from place to place visiting the churches and encouraging the believers, both Jews and devout converts to Judaism. In Pisidian Anticoh, after the reading of the law in the synagogue, the rulers sent word saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.”
Paul stood up and explained the entire gospel beginning from the time the Israelites were in Egypt upto resurrection of Christ. Many truths were explained so that they could grasp the magnanimous salvation plan of God who worked it out through centuries and decades. He explained the significance of the resurrection, telling that only through Jesus was the forgiveness of sins possible. Going further he warned them not to reject the gospel and incur trouble on themselves as happened in the past to their forefathers. Deeply moved by the message, the people asked them to speak the next Sabbath. This time the whole city was gathered to hear the message. But when the Jews saw the crowd, they became jealous and talked abusively against Paul. They stirred up trouble and persecution that made Paul and Barnabas to leave the city. But Paul and his companions were not flustered or embittered by this. On the contrary, they were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Facing rejection and persecution is not easy, especially when we have undertaken a great deal of effort and personal sacrifice to do something for others benefit. We can behave rudely and with an air of religious superiority. And even force the gospel down on people. But we can also make a choice to stay joyful in the midst of persecution and trust God to deal with the situation. When we lean on the Holy Spirit and allow him to be incharge even over our natural selves, he will help us respond in a way that honours God.
If you’ve been trying to share the gospel and are faced with rejection or abuse, hand it over to the Lord and stay joyful. For God is concerned that you musn’t become bitter and lose the joy of salvation.
Prayer – “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being patient and forbearing with me. Help me not to become bitter when I am abused or persecuted for doing your work. May the joy of the Holy Spirit always remain in me. Amen.”
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