Week 18 April 29 - May 5, 2018

Throughout church history there has been no testimony more powerful than a believer who can celebrate their satisfaction in Christ in the midst of suffering.

When someone demonstrates pure joy during a painful trial, their unwavering attitude testifies to the outside world that their most precious treasures are kept securely in the storehouses of another kingdom.

 A perfect example of this winsome Christian witness is captured in Acts 16:25-34, where we see a midnight worship service taking place inside a cold Philippian jailhouse.

In this scene, Paul and Silas are prisoners locked behind bars for their missionary efforts, but they both sang hymns of praise as free men whose souls had already been released from the penalty of sin. And when the Lord suddenly caused an earthquake to swing the jail cell doors wide open later that evening, both Paul and Silas were able to patiently wait for the jailer to wake up so that their actions would be a perfect match with their attitude.

When the Philippian jailer arose and realized that the prison doors were open, he automatically assumed that the prisoners had escaped. Since a jailbreak would have been sufficient grounds for the jailer to be put to death, he decided to take out his sword and prepare to end his own life before the authorities had a chance to.

However, when the jailer heard and saw Paul and Silas quietly remaining in their cells, he was overcome with awe and fear and cried out to a bunch of prisoners on how he could become free.

The jailer desperately pleaded with Paul and Silas in verse 30 to answer the question, “…what must I do to be saved?” It was then that these faithful men were finally able to share the glorious truth of the gospel, as they proclaimed in verse 31, “…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

This biblical account of someone finding Jesus in the jailhouse is just one of countless stories where God has used the pain of His people for a greater purpose.

We are ordained to suffer as Christians because it is much easier to praise the Lord when the sun is out shining bright then it is during the darkest moments of the storm.

But, when we can have an attitude of praise during our season of pain, non-believers soon become desperate to find our source of hope.

So, are you finding satisfaction in the midst of our current storms? As you go through struggles are you seeking ways to keep the flame of hope burning? Are you able to renew yourself in the joy of your eternal salvation despite what this current world is throwing at you?

It’s possible that God may be allowing you to experience this painful season of your life because He not only wants you to draw closer to Him, but He also wants to use you as a witness who points to His eternal promises.

And, as you praise God in the presence of your pain, it may very well become the most powerful tool that the Lord will use to show your family and friends that true and lasting joy is not found in our comfort, but can only be found in Christ.

Finding Jesus in the Jailhouse

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Three Roles for a Thriving Ministry

As we encounter the missionary journeys of the early church in Acts 13-17, we also find a perfect blueprint for faithful ministry through three distinct roles. In these passages we encounter Paul as a mature mentor, Barnabas as an encouraging associate, and Timothy as a humble apprentice. We too should seek to surround ourselves with a Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy in our daily walk with God. Paul is the one who will show us the way; Barnabas is the one who will inspire us to continue our work; and Timothy is the one who we pour back into so someone will continue the work after we are gone.

True Friends are Hard to Find

In 1 Samuel 18 we find a precious friendship between David and Jonathan that has deep and lasting roots. In verse 1 it says, “…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” This unique relationship is an echo of Proverbs 18:24, which declares, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” As Jonathan sacrificed loyalty to his own family in order to preserve the life of David, we are reminded that God sometimes places soulmates in our life who stick closer to us than our own blood relatives here on earth.

Taking Good Care of Our Tears

One of the greatest comforts that believers in Jesus Christ can celebrate is the knowledge that our Lord remembers every ounce of pain we experience, and He never wastes a single tear. Psalm 56:8 says, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” These precious words remind us that our God cares about our struggles and He never overlooks our concerns. He is a loving Father who wants to carry our burdens and also to use each shed tear to continue transforming us into the image of His Son.

Tips to Keep You on Track

Week 19 Readings:  May 6 - May 12

-Day One:  1 Samuel 26-27; 1 Chronicles 8; Acts 18

-Day Two:  1 Samuel 28-29; 1 Chronicles 9; Acts 19

-Day Three:  1 Samuel 30-31; 1 Chronicles 10; Acts 20

-Day Four:  2 Samuel 1-2; 1 Chronicles 11; Psalm 96, 106; Acts 21

-Day Five:  2 Samuel 3-5; 1 Chronicles 12; Psalm 122; Acts 22


          Our assigned passages this week will take us through more trials and tribulations of the Apostle Paul, as he boldly proclaims the gospel of Christ and ministers to church leaders. Pay close attention to his pastoral heart throughout his famous address to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20:17-38. In these verses, we see Paul as a shepherd who makes a sacrificial commitment to know, lead, feed, and protect the sheep of God’s flock who are entrusted to him. As Christians we may not all be called to be pastors, but we are all commissioned by God to fulfill a unique ministry role that will help build His kingdom. Let us draw encouragement from Paul’s words and allow his commitment to the Lord help refine our own focus on what God has ordained for us to complete for His glory and our joy.