Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: https://sothrichfield.podbean.com
Acts 17:1-15 (NIV)
17 When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days, he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. 5 But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.
10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. 13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
Since his conversion, this is the sixth time Paul has been forced by persecution to leave an area. How would you view your mission if that happened to you?
Lord, rejection is hard. Paul passionately preached Your gospel of love, forgiveness, and salvation. He was not only rejected for it but persecuted. I was let go from a job that I had poured myself into. I prided myself on working with employees and being creative to provide customers with the best quality product possible on time. But after I was rejected by the new management, I truly haven’t forgotten the hurt, frustration, and disorientation that I felt because of it. I took my rejection personally. It’s hard not to. My self-confidence was crushed and I had no desire to return to that field again. I didn’t feel good enough. Paul didn’t give up when he was rejected. His personal identity was not in what he was doing but in who he was serving. His self-confidence wasn’t in himself but he was confident in You. Lord, I want to be more like Paul. I want to have my identity in You to be so solid that it doesn’t matter what job I do, who likes me, or what people say about me. I want to serve You passionately, love You completely, and share that love with others. This is a time where expressing my faith can generate hate and persecution. Let that not deter me from sharing Your message of love to others even if it means that I will be hurt, rejected, or lose material possessions because of it. Your message is critically important especially during this time of unrest and Your rewards are eternal. Help me to get my strength from You. When I am weak You are strong. My identity is in You. I am a child of God. I praise and thank You, Almighty Father. Amen