Year 2 Day 24
Read - Acts 14v1-7
Message - Scott Woodburn
As we make our way through the book of Acts we can be incredibly thankful for the spread of the Gospel. Paul's first missionary journey continues and he finds himself in the city of Iconium. Iconium is today called Konya and is in the great nation of Turkey. The men entered the city and set about preaching in the synagogue (v1). Their preaching was powerful, so much so that a great number of both Jews and Gentiles believed. Yet the place where the Gospel is preached and believed, always comes under the scrutiny of Satan.
In Iconium some unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas by poisoning their minds against the traveling preachers (v2). As I've said before in these devotions, Satan rarely rolls his tanks up to the door of the church. He operates in the shadows, in the carpark, in emails and text messages. In Iconium the words of the Jews against the preachers of the Gospel became like poison in the minds of the Gentiles. Eventually the opposition was so bad that a group tried to mistreat and stone Paul and Barnabas (v5). The men had to flee the city and went to other places where they continued to preach Christ (v7).
It should be no surprise that from rotten little acorns great poisonous oak trees grow! I wonder how often the work of the Gospel has been hindered in our churches by words of whispered poison? I wonder how many brothers and sisters have wept through the night because of untruths that have been spoken against them? I wonder how often our chats fall into gossip and slander rather than encouragement?
Many years ago in a land far, far away I sat in a home and tried to counsel an individual whose words against another person had become poisonous, public and divisive. My memory of that day has largely gone but I do remember utterly failing in changing the person's mind. They didn't want to hear an alternative and they refused to believe that their "enemy" wasn't actually the worst person in the world ever. They wouldn't hear of forgiveness, they didn't want any reconciliation and sadly the poison continued to seep out into the fellowship.
Brothers and sisters I beg you to remember that we are not our own! We belong to Jesus Christ and He has not called us into cliques, camps or factions. The words we speak about one another can build up or they can destroy. The poison that leaves our lips into the ears of another has the potential to destroy the work of the Gospel and make no mistake they can impact another mentally and emotionally, opening the door to depression and many other troubles.
As our garden centres and coffee shops open, may we be wise to the enemy. As we sip our lattes and eat our scones, may we not slip effortlessly into sinful slander and persuasive poison. If the Gospel is preached in your church then make no mistake, your fellowship will be a target for Satan. Don't offer him any help with a few quiet words in the carpark or grumbling or discontent in Dobbies. "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." (Colossians 4v6)
Q37 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death? The souls of believers are, at their death, made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves until the resurrection.