I keep reading about boldness.
8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.Acts 19:9-10, NIV, emphasis added
Paul’s life shows me what it looks like: Boldness. Intention. Purpose. Movement. I take note that he spoke, and when he met with resistance, he just moved on. He wanted to reach as many people as he could.
When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. 2 He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, 3 where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia.Acts 20:1-3, NIV, emphasis added
The uproar was that what Paul was teaching threatened the business of an idol maker and reputation of Artemis. Paul’s faith and message left a reaction and a wake wherever he went. (In chapter 19, I note this as well. Look:
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.Acts 19:13-16, NIV, emphasis added
Did these men get beaten because they were working on Paul’s faith and not their own?)
I notice his commitment and use of time.
7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.
He knows it won’t be an easy road for him. What he says is packed with perspective and purpose.
17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.Acts 20:17-24, NIV, emphasis added
And he knows that when he leaves, someone will want to follow after him and undo his efforts. He warns again, even after doing so for three years …
27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.Acts 20:27-32, NIV, emphasis added
Lord, there is so much to learn here about faith, perseverance, intention, commitment, and purpose. When I think of Paul, it’s what I know of him through Scripture. I think of faith, boldness, and resilience. He knew and didn’t know what lay ahead of him, but he trusted you. Lord, I don’t want to be like the men who may have wanted to walk in faith, but walked in the faith of someone else. Help me to remember the times you built my strength through pressure and testing–God, you are always with me. This was such a rich reading and has me thinking long on challenges, effort and faith. Help me to steward my responsibilities wisely.