So They Remained

Acts 14:1-3 ESV

“Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I read this particular passage of Scripture I break out in a smile. Why? Now it could be just the English translation that says it this way, but this is why I smile.

It says that the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. Do you know what that means? It means they made the Gentiles dislike, disapprove of, not trust, and reject the apostles. They persuaded the Gentiles to turn away from the apostles so that they would not listen to them, and perhaps to even attack them. So, what would you do in their shoes? Would you go someplace else? Or stay?

Now this is the part that makes me smile. Even though the Gentiles had just turned against them and were persuaded to not listen to the apostles, it says, “So they remained for a long time.” In English “so” is like “therefore” and thus there is a connection between the fact that the Gentiles had just now had their minds poisoned against the apostles which then resulted in the apostles remaining for a long time. And maybe you don’t see what I see.

It would be kind of like saying that there is no water in the lake and so they remained a long time for they wanted to swim. The two statements appear contradictory. Kind of like, I didn’t have a car and so I drove to the store, but not exactly. It is like the two sentences don’t seem to make sense together, that the Gentiles now having turned against the apostles would then be the reason or the result of the apostles remaining for a long time.

So, what about it makes me smile? It is that the apostles, at least in this case, did not change their course of action just because their circumstances changed. They didn’t assume that just because the Jews had poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against them that they should just pack up their bags and leave. They did sometimes, and other times they didn’t. But in this case they didn’t let that dissuade them, and if anything it maybe inspired them more of the necessity that they remain and keep teaching the Word.

Now, I can remember times in my life when I let situations like this lead me to back away and even to run away, but that has been a long while ago. For it is hard to remain and to keep speaking to people who don’t want to hear what you have to say, and who you know are likely to mistreat you and say evil against you. And I am certainly not suggesting that we force the truth on anyone, and I don’t believe that was what the apostles did, either. But they did speak out in the public where anyone nearby could hear them.

But what I am thinking here is how hard it is to remain among people who you know don’t like you and don’t want you and don’t approve of you. Well, Jesus knows what that is like. As humans, we might naturally just want to go someplace else, and sometimes that is necessary. But to keep loving people who hate you and who you know are against you is difficult to do. So, only by the grace of God and by his love and in his power can we remain and keep loving and keep doing what the Lord has called us to do.

We definitely have to be people who deny self and who take up our cross daily and who follow Jesus in obedience or we cannot do what the apostles did. We cannot keep on doing what the Lord has called us to do right there in the midst of those we know oppose us. For our human nature would most likely lead us to just walk away. But it is God’s nature living within us that leads us to remain and to keep on doing what the Lord has called us to do, even in the face of great opposition.

So, if that is where you are, don’t let other people’s treatment of you or their opinions of you deter you from the work of the Lord. But again, sometimes the Lord will lead us to leave and to go someplace else, while other times he says “stay” and to keep on doing his will, and to just trust him with the other people, and with our circumstances, and trust that he has a plan and a purpose for it all. And so just obey him, and leave the results to him.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; Jn 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Jn 17:14; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 2 Tim 3:12; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Jn 3:13; Rev 6:9-11; Rev 7:9-17; Rev 11:1-3; Rev 12:17; Rev 13:1-18; Rev 14:1-13]

It Will be Worth it All

By Esther Kerr Rusthoi

It will be worth it all
when we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small
when we see Christ.
One glimpse of his dear face,
all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race
till we see Christ.
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