David and Jesus and Jeremiah were not afraid to weep.
Neither should we.
Sunday morning I heard a great message from a young pastor and missionary. His text was Acts 18 and the message was on the sufficiency of the word of God for the planting, protecting, strengthening and expanding of the church. Our hearts were encouraged and the church was strengthened. It was a good morning of worship, fellowship and love in a young church seeking to be faithful to Christ and a blessing to its community.
Good preaching doesn’t have to be loud and boisterous. Today’s wasn’t. Good preaching doesn’t have to be emotionally charged. Good preaching just has to be done in the power of the Holy Spirit, and be a faithful exposition of the word of God. God will take care of the rest. And as God takes care of the rest, wonderful things happen. New things. Unexpected things. The Spirit moves hearts through new exposure to His word in new directions, some this way and some that. For me, the message today gave me time to think, time to read the passage with a new focus.
The Editors of the ESV Bible provide a simple heading for the chapter:
“Paul in Corinth”
Three verses caught my attention.
5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue.
I read those verses and remembered Paul’s background. See the book of Acts for all the evidence you need for the following.
A Pharisee, and what came with that important piece of information:
He was proud of his theological heritage.
He was a hater of Gentiles.
He was a persecutor of the church.
He was a participant in the murder of the first martyr of the church.
And here, in this passage, we hear that he has been so transformed by the gospel that he, the hater of Gentiles and the persecutor of the church, the arrogant Pharisee—when the Jews of Corinth turn their backs on the gospel—moves into the home of a GENTILE and stays in town for a YEAR AND A HALF, preaching to Gentiles (vs. 11).
I read those three verses. And when those thoughts leapt to my mind, tears began to flow almost instantly from my eyes. They were tears from somewhere deep in my soul and sorrow.
Our God is powerful enough to change Paul, He’s powerful enough to change the prodigals I’m praying for and the prodigals my friends are praying for and the enemies of the gospel that many others are praying for. That was encouraging enough to bring tears of joy and hope and rejoicing, and new prayers, and a new resolve to pray and trust God til the answers come to the many prayers we pray.