Day 42: Do you ever get discouraged as a follower of Jesus? (Acts 18:1-18)
Today’s Passage: Acts 18:1-18
As a follower of Jesus, I believe God has rescued me, for today and for eternity. I believe that the best way to live my life on earth is to follow Jesus—and yet I get discouraged.
In my life, two situations seem to come up often that can lead to my discouragement.
The first is when I wander from Jesus. I stray from following him and then I beat myself up, and get discouraged.
The second is when I follow Jesus. Sometimes other people challenge me or emotionally come at me, and I get discouraged.
Does this happen to you?
I bring this up because Paul is facing discouragement.
For weeks he has been going to the synagogue, sharing about Jesus with negative results.
How can I tell he is discouraged? Well, he seems to have reached his limit. He gets fed up, shakes the dust off his sandals, and goes next door to the Gentiles. (Interestingly the leader of the synagogue, Crispus, goes with him.).
God must sense Paul’s situation, for he appears to him in a dream, and Paul remains for a year and a half.
Let’s remember, Paul is in a tough town. The Corinthians were a proud people. You sense this when you read his letters to them.
Beyond his letters, we know some things from history. Julius Caesar beautifully rebuilt their city in 46 BC. I imagine they were proud of it. They had wealth. They were cultured. The world-famous Isthmian games were hosted every other year in their city. It was the capital of provincial Achaia, taking precedence even over Athens!
Beyond those measures, Corinth was associated in everybody’s mind with immorality. Behind the city, nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, rose the rocky eminence called the Acrocorinth. This “rock” is huge. On its flat summit stood the temple of Aphrodite or Venus, the goddess of love. A thousand female slaves served her and roamed the city’s streets by night as prostitutes.
Can you imagine a place like this? I can.
Can you imagine going to a place like this to share the Gospel?
It is no wonder God visited Paul in a dream.
It is no wonder that God provides him some people, flesh and blood, Aquila and Priscilla to come alongside and encourage him. (I imagine Aquila and Priscilla were encouraged to find Paul, after all, they fled Rome.)
And God further encourages him, because while there is a big “brew-ha-ha”, Paul is delivered. Remember, these situations in the past have not turned out well for Paul.
It is no wonder God inspires Paul to preach only the Cross, and to do so with fear and trembling. (see 1 Corinthians 2:2-3)
You might ask, “Why is he preaching only the Cross? Shouldn’t he be more sophisticated? Afterall, wasn’t he quoting philosophers when he was in Athens?”
It could be a human reason. Maybe he has reached the limit of his patience and he is simply no longer mincing words. Yet, there may be another reason.
The Cross undermines all human pride. It insists that we are sinners, and that we have absolutely nothing with which to buy, or indeed contribute to, our salvation. That message works—because it is truth.
Look, smart people, caught up in the world, know that they are lost. It is no surprise that many wise, influential or upper-class Corinthians responded to the gospel!
The same is true today.
Be not discouraged. God is with us. Look around for people that God has put in your life to encourage you—can you identify any?