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The Scriptorium

Working the Angles

God's got what it takes. Acts 18.5-8

Paul in Corinth (2)

Pray Psalm 110.1, 2.
The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!

Sing Psalm 110.1, 2.
(Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
“Sit by Me at My right hand,” the LORD says to my Lord,
“until I make Your foot stand on all who hate Your Word.”
The LORD sends strength from Zion: “Rule all Your enemies.”
While those who Him rely on go forth their LORD to please.

Read Acts 18.1-8; meditate on verses 5-8.

1. Why did Paul turn to the Gentiles?

2. What happened when he did?

The work of God goes forward despite human opposition. First, God sent Paul two of his prized teammates. Silas and Timothy, their follow-up work in Macedonia complete, arrived to join Paul in His work (v. 5). Their report encouraged him and made him more sensitive to the Spirit (cf. 1 Thess. 3.6-10), Who “compelled” Paul to ratchet-up his testimony to the Jews.

But the Jews opposed Paul and his message, going so far as to blaspheme the Name of the Lord (v. 6). Paul wasn’t going to argue with them or give them a platform for their blasphemy. He “shook his garments” and left them to their own bad decisions. Sometimes doing so will open a way for the God to work in the hearts of some who may have formerly been blasphemers. No sooner did Paul begin winning converts among the Gentiles than the leader of the synagogue, where Paul was opposed, converted to the Lord, together with his whole household and many others (v. 8).

Meanwhile, Paul moved his work next door to the synagogue, to the home of a Gentile God-fearer, Justus. He was part of the synagogue in Corinth and sympathetic to Paul’s preaching. He opened his home to the Gospel, and God opened his network of family, friends, and associates to the Good News of Jesus (vv. 7, 8).

The Lord works all the angles to keep the Gospel going forward. He brings friends and co-workers to help us in working our Personal Mission Field. He may close a door here and there, but not without opening another. He’ll even work in people who have previously rejected our witness, but in whom the seed of the Word has begun to take root. We can’t figure out all the best ways to advance the rule of King Jesus, but He can. Our calling is to be faithful in every opportunity before us. The Lord will work the angles as He sees fit.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Back in the fifties and sixties, the dastardlier the salvation story, the grander (e.g., the man who sold his baby’s shoes to buy liquor and then found Jesus, or the guy saved out of the dumpster). Much was made of the multitudes reached for the Gospel from such testimonies. And they were amazing stories with good consequences; but they are not the norm.

So, we needn’t spend any time worrying that our own Personal Mission Fields seem lacking or small in comparison. They are not. They are where we have been put to be faithful to God’s call on our own lives in our sphere. Our faithfulness may result in nothing that we ever see; but it has results. Because as God said:
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please.
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Is. 55.11).

The Bible is full of stories of people we briefly meet, who do their work for the Kingdom, yet whom we do not read of again. But they are our examples in the work; and we will meet again in glory!

In 2 Kings 5.2-4 we read of a nameless young girl from the land of Israel who was taken captive by the Syrians. She was a servant to Naaman’s wife. Naaman was a commander of the army, and he had a serious problem; he was a leper. And this brave, nameless servant said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” Naaman took her words to heart, managed a trip to Samaria, was sent by Elisha to go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and was healed of his disease. His testimony was, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel…” (2 Kgs. 5.15). And he carried his newfound faith back to Syria.

Jeremiah faithfully worked his Personal Mission Field; but as the NKJV preface to his book states: “A heartbroken prophet with a heartbreaking message…labors for more than forty years proclaiming a message of doom to the stiff-necked people of Judah. Despised and persecuted by his countrymen, Jeremiah bathes his harsh prophecies in tears of compassion.” The usual, but perhaps ungodly, signs of success were not in evidence in his lifetime. And yet, his written words are still teaching, convicting, guiding, comforting, and spurring on believers, as he faithfully declared that “surrender to God’s will is the only way to escape calamity” (NKJV notes).

God is Sovereign. He is working all the angles on everyone’s life. We can trust Him fully. He has got this. Furthermore, we are blessed and called to participate with Him in this work (Eph. 2.10). What we do is important to God. It may not be grandiose; it may seem small and inconsequential. We may not see the results in our lifetime. But most assuredly, there will be some. And that is all we need to know.

Let us be this generation’s nameless servant girl and despised prophet, obediently speaking words of truth into a world that desperately needs to hear them.

Like Jesus’ Words and His angle:
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10.10).

For reflection
1. Think of as many people as you can in your Personal Mission Field. Name their names aloud. If you don’t reach them with the grace of God, who will?

2. How are you asking God to flow His grace through you today? How will you be an ambassador of Christ’s Kingdom in your Personal Mission Field?

3. Whom will you encourage today to see their Personal Mission Field as an arena in which God’s grace can flow?

The Lord knows those that are his, yea, and those that shall be his; for it is by his work upon them that they become his. Let us not despair concerning any place, when even in wicked Corinth Christ had much people. He will gather in his chosen flock from the places where they are scattered.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 18.7-11

Pray Psalm 110.3-7.
Pray for the progress of the Gospel over all the earth. Call on God to revive His churches, renew His people, and bring a great awakening of faith to multitudes. Be ready to be part of that great work today.

Sing Psalm 110.3-7.
(Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
Your people in Your power, arrayed in holiness,
like dew of morning’s hour shall serve like youth refreshed.
The LORD has sworn and never will He His promise check:
“You are a priest forever after Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at Your right hand to execute His wrath,
and judge all kings and all lands—doomed sinners in His path.
Then, all His foes defeated, He takes His hard-won rest,
in glorious triumph seated with us, redeemed and blessed.

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable free by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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