“And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him…
…He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” Acts 28:16, 30-31
This passage reveals Paul’s commitment to preaching God’s Word even in surroundings that seemed very restrictive and inhibiting. Paul is imprisoned, unable to “go” anywhere to share God’s Word, yet God allowed him the freedom to speak to anyone who would come to where he was.
I find my thoughts turning to those who “came to him” desiring to hear Paul’s bold preaching (Parresia-plainly, openly, bold, confidence, fearlessly, without hindrance, full of courage), and have their hearts stirred to love Jesus and Father God. Then, returning home they would have to continue in their newfound faith on their own. They certainly didn’t have the means we have today to open a Bible on our mobile devices or numerous hard copies in our homes providing continued availability to God’s words and truths. How did they ever stay close to God? I know the Holy Spirit became very prevalent, but did they have a sense of His presence? Did they lean into their new, joy-filled faith and recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit? Maybe they found each other and drew strength, knowledge and purpose from one another. Maybe they returned to Paul on a regular basis to hear him speak. These faithful people took in the Word and allowed it to permeate their lives in-order to then have it overflow into the lives of so many others. It is amazing that I might be a descendant (if not by heredity, by Christ’s blood for sure) of one who heard Paul’s words and made it their mission to strive to grow in their faith and love for God and His Son. What a legacy!
Today, if people want to learn more about God and grow in their faith all they need to do is “Google” their inquiries and receive hundreds of Bible versions, personal articles, books, devotions, tweets, blogs, pins, podcasts, and posts. The YouVersion Bible *boasts over 4000 reading plans. Still, I wonder if we are making the impact that the first believers made in order to learn and spread God’s Word to all corners of the globe? I was recently blessed when a friend at work walked into my cubicle, handed me a Study Bible and said, “My cousin gave me this Bible but there is so much here and I’m so confused; would you help me?” Here was someone who wanted to understand what she was reading, but most of all wanted to know and understand all that God had for her.
Having this friend request help in receiving all this ‘Study Bible’ had for her, made me think of those who “came to Paul” to hear all He had for them. They made the effort to go to where he was, listen to all he had to say and then, the responsibility of taking what they’d learned and applying it into their lives fell to them. Their faith and love for Christ required continued diligence, knowledge, understanding and wisdom in order to grow and be fruitful and the same is true for us.
What a blessing that others know I’m a Christian and although I have shown a witness of where I stand in my faith, I pray I am making an impact that makes them “Go Away Changed”; accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior and wanting to know Him more and encourage others to do the same! I inquired of my *pastor and **Googled information that might help my friend explore her wonderful Study Bible. We also have plans to get together to discuss each of our different Study Bibles and learn from each other, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction, possibly the same as those who “came to Paul” and heard from him.I’d like to encourage you, as you hear messages your pastor brings each week, or conference speakers share with you, and even songs you sing in worship to the Lord, that you commit to “Go Away Changed”. Commit to take away even one morsel that you will strive to apply to your life in the week ahead. Below/attached are note sheets I designed to help guide us in our Study Bible-Bible Study and a prayer sheet that guides us through the ACTS of prayer. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication)
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