Have a Word of Hope? Share It!

This is from my friend Kerry S. Doyal of Grace Bible Church in Kingsport, TN.

It’s one of our fantasies: someone asking us to share the gospel with them! The Jailer in Philippi asked Paul “what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16). Jealous? Who doesn’t want such an opening to tell the good news? We’re drooling. I wonder: do we in fact get occasional invitations like that but miss them? Another “please tell me” occasion happened in a Synagogue one Sabbath. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers asked their guests to bring a message. “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak” (Acts 13:15).  And Paul did.

On the second stage of their first missionary journey, Paul, Barnabas and company traveled to Pisidian Antioch.  As had already become their custom, they went to the Jewish community and on the Sabbath went to Synagogue. True to the custom of the day, they were asked to bring a greeting or teaching for their fellow countrymen and the God-fearers who had gathered for worship that day. Thus the bodacious opportunity: “if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” Paul had been prayerfully selected and sent off by the church to share the gospel (Acts 13:1-4). Much like we have been called in our “going” to tell others and make disciples (Acts 1:8, 9; Matthew 28:16-20).

With such an important commissioning, they prayerfully and carefully positioned themselves to talk about Jesus. Where? In a Synagogue on the Sabbath. Who? They were respected Jews, Paul was a trained Rabbi. They honored their Jewish customs. Do you behave strategically or spasmodically in your work for God? Do you realize you are and act like a person on a mission? “As the Father sent Me”, Jesus said, “so send I you” (John 20:21).

Connecting with his target audience – “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen” (vs. 16) –  Paul steps up and speaks up. Nice! His message builds off their shared Jewish history found in the Biblical texts.  Paraphrasing Acts 13:17-41:

“Jesus, God’s sent Savior, was the next, final step in our history, Israel. God chose us, rescued us from Egypt, and gave us the land. He then appointed Judges, Prophets and Kings. From King David, He brought us the promised savior – Jesus! Believe in Him, God’s message of good news to us. In Him we can be forgiven – something the Law could never provide. We can be justified. Don’t make the same mistake our leaders in Jerusalem did by having Him crucified. God raised Him, now bow before Him.” That’s not bad for Paul’s first recorded sermon. His methods and message are instructive and inspiring.

Do you ever strategically position yourself to witness (see John 4; Acts 8)? Do you hang out in places and with people so that you can earn the privilege of being heard? Pay your dues, dish out genuine love, engage and be ready (see 1 Peter 2:9-12; 3:13-16). When you are asked what you think about a moral matter, a social situation, a religious question, do you find a way to weave in Jesus? It is Jesus that saves, not having a proper political or social position.

Are you so outspoken about secondary matters (politics, social agendas, minor doctrines) that you lose your chance to be heard concerning eternal matters (read Colossians 4:5-6)? Don’t lose your voice!

Do you have a word of encouragement – the gospel? Is Romans 1:16-17 your testimony too? “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (NIV). Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Never lose heart in the power of the gospel. Do not believe that there exists any man, much less any race of men, for whom the gospel is not fitted.” “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.” They did. Do we?

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2 thoughts on “Have a Word of Hope? Share It!

  1. 40 years ago I was a freshman in college. There was a big youth evangelism movement going on then and for twenty years after. Many churches were founded then that are still around. Nobody that goes to them now is under fifty.

    There is no Christian youth movement now. No equivalent to the God freaks of my day. The big difference, I think, is that then the kids were encouraged to think for themselves about what God wanted for them and then to go out on their own and preach. Today, Christianity is the province of tired old men, saying the same old thing they were saying 40 years ago.

    Christian evangelists currently make the mistake of thinking that religious truths are written in stone. Man, God is saying new things all the time and he expects his people to be listening and to pass it on. If you’re not giving people the answers they need for their lives today, you’re not telling them anything they need to hear. They’re going to have to start their journey where they are right now, doing the same things they always do, around the same people. If that’s not where you’re starting from, no sale.

  2. Dear Reddog,

    It seems a sad statement to believe that Christianity has somehow become impotent due to old people not having the answers to questions (that you don’t provide so, I can’t address it). It confuses me a little because I’m unaware of these ineffective old preachers nor the questions that are not being answered, which is an odd statement coming from someone who has to be at least 58 years old. While I am sure there are a lot of preachers that are elderly or older in age I assure you that there are many young preachers taking their place on the world stage, spreading the good news of Jesus in ways that appeal to many young people. As for the questions you refer to, are there any specific questions that you know of, that people don’t have answers too?
    Now as to your reference to Gods Word being written in stone. I fundamentally disagree with you on this point. The truth is, that it was written in stone by Gods doing. (Ten commandments ring any bells). What new things is God saying. Clearly you should know if you are going to accuse someone else of not hearing it. It is a biblical principal that God is unchanging and that His word is unchanging. If someone says that God has spoken a new revelation and it does not line up with scripture then its not God, and if it does line up with scripture then its not really a new revelation.
    I agree that people will have to start their christian walk where they are in life. But that is not really a new idea. You can find that truth in the bible as well. They will change but the Holy Spirit convict them and take care of them.
    Lastly I do not understand what you point has to do with anything in the post. Really you did exactly the opposite of what the purpose of the post was, Sharing a Word of Hope.
    But one must have a Word of Hope before one can share it.
    My good word of Hope, the same Jesus that saved so many youth 40 years ago can and still does save so many today, the same way, in love and truth.

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