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June 21, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Speaking Boldly for Jesus Today

“but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.”

1 Thessalonians 2:2, Page 1846        

        Everyone reading the New Testament should take the trip to Philippi with Paul, as recorded in Acts 16:11-40 (pages 1731-1733).  Luke, the human author of Acts, introduces Philippi as the leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony.  Paul begins preaching at the river, to a group of women assembled there on the Sabbath day.  While preaching, he meets Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshipper of God, and a listener.  God opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.  She and her entire house were then baptized.  Paul also met a slave girl, who had the spirit of divination within her.  Paul cast out the spirit and her owners lost the livelihood they made from her demonic activities.  So, they stirred up the people of Philippi and put Paul in jail.

      While in jail at Philippi, Paul and his companion, Silas,  experienced a great earthquake.  The prison doors were opened, and everyone’s chains unfastened.  The jailer was about to kill himself for fear of having the prisoners escape.  Paul and the others stayed, and the Philippian jailer, along with his household, received salvation from Jesus Christ.  Paul would not leave the jail until the magistrates who had beaten him and  incarcerated him without a trial lead him out personally.  You see, Paul was a Roman citizen, and Roman law required no beating or incarceration until a citizen had been tried in court first, and found guilty.  So, now you have some idea about the troubles Paul and his companions had at Philippi. 

       In 1 Thessalonians 2:2, Paul talks about boldness in our God to speak the Gospel.  This term “boldness” describes how Paul spoke at Damascus (Acts 9:27, page 1717) and  Ephesus (Acts 19:8, page 1737).   Undoubtedly, Paul spoke out boldly everywhere he went, but the emphasis here is that opposition did not stop him from speaking.  Notice in this verse how the boldness came from God.  Paul was not bold in himself, but rather was empowered by God to speak with boldness (compare 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, page 1783). 

        As we have already seen in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 (page 1846), the Thessalonians had received the Gospel of Jesus Christ among much opposition.  Paul did not let opposition stop him from speaking boldly for Christ.  As we speak out boldly for Christ, our testimony stirs up courage in other believers to speak out the word without fear (Phillipians 1:14, page 1835).  Remember too the words of Jesus: “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven in great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12, page 1506).

        So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

      ●   Encourage your friends, as they encourage you, to share your faith with boldness in God.

       ●   Tell your friends in Christ about how God has helped you to endure persecution for sharing the Gospel. 

       ●   By God’s power, do not let persecution stop you, or your friends, from sharing your faith in Christ. 

Application for Today

        Today, I want to  encourage someone who has been insulted or persecuted for sharing his/her faith in Christ.  I will share my experiences with being persecuted for speaking out for Jesus, and together we shall become better friends.  Who will you encourage to share Jesus today?

 

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