ACTS 18:9-11 – And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”
THEME OF THE DAY: THE COURAGE OF COMMUNITY. At times, we may read our Bibles encountering the “great giants of the faith” and be tempted to make them bigger than life. For instance, who has not marveled over the leadership of Moses, the courage of Joshua, the heart of David for God, the thundering voices of the Old Testament prophets, the uncompromising fearlessness of Peter and John, and the untiring efforts and boldness of the Apostle Paul amidst much opposition? It is like when we read the biographies of great Christians in church history. Instead of being encouraged, we might be discouraged over these “super Christians” and resign ourselves we will never measure up.
Well, before we fall into the pit of discouragement, remember two things – All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and that includes Moses, Joshua, David, the Old Testament prophets, Peter, John, and yes, even the greatest Christian ever to live – the Apostle Paul. The other thing to remember is associated with today’s scripture. All God’s people, yes, all, will feel the temptation to be afraid in a world increasingly hostile to the Lord Jesus. Paul was. God even gave him a command, “Do not be afraid” and the reason why was because Paul was afraid! He was awake the night he received this instruction from God. Why was he having a difficult time sleeping? Maybe because he was afraid. The instruction the Lord gives Paul, He gives to us and is important in two directions.
First, when tempted to be afraid because of the potential, and inevitable, suffering from others for being a Christian, remember we are never alone. After the Lord commands Paul “don’t be afraid”, He immediately encourages Him with the promise of His Presence – “but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you.” Application? Fear or being afraid comes from looking around at people and circumstances. Conquer it by remembering the Lord’s promise of His Presence. When consciously aware of the Lord’s Presence, sinful fear will depart.
The second lesson is courage to overcome fear comes through the community of believers. Pay attention to the other instruction of encouragement from the Lord to Paul – no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people. Paul was to overcome being afraid through fellowship with other believers. This means Christianity is not a private thing. Yes, it is individual as we come to the Lord Jesus for salvation but it is never private. God calls us to live out the faith in a community of believers. He knows we need one another to grow and overcome the many challenges of being a Christian in a godless world, and one of those challenges is defeating fear or being afraid.
Application? Friends, we must be immersed in a community of believers. We simply cannot grow as a Christian without loving and sacrificial investment in the lives of other believers, and that goes far beyond a few Sunday mornings a month. And here is the warning. There is no such Christianity of just “Jesus and me.” If this defines us, we have just discovered why we have low levels of empowering joy and high levels of fear, stress, and anxiety. God designed the Christian life as a family who grow together and journey to heaven together. We simply cannot be “lone ranger” Christians. They don’t exist.
PRAYER: “Father, I praise You for the believers in my life who encourage me in the many trials we face as Your children.”
QUOTE: “Christianity is individual but not private. We grow in Christ together. We journey to heaven together.”
In the affection of Christ Jesus,