Tuesday, November 12, 2013

City mayhem

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

TO CHEW ON: "Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you." 2 Thessalonians 3:1

How was it with the "you" in this letter—the Thessalonians? Luke tells the story of the gospel coming to Thessalonica in Acts 17. There we see Paul on his second missionary journey, reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jews in the synagogue for three successive Sabbaths. He convinces "a great multitude of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women"  about Jesus' claims.

But there is opposition. The unpersuaded Jews start a riot that results in the mob lynching Paul's supporter Jason and dragging him to the city officials. Their accusation: "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too" - Acts 17:6.

The Bible has stories of other city-wide revivals and movements:

Sychar (in Samaria): Many believe in Jesus after the Samaritan woman meets Him at the well and goes back to the city to tell of His prophetic powers. These Samaritans are so welcoming that Jesus spends two days with them and "many more believed because of His word" - John 4:41.

Jerusalem: On the occasion of the coming of the Holy Spirit "… fear came upon every soul" (Acts 2:43). This results in the people being "highly esteemed" (Acts 5:13), a clash with the Jewish authorities (Acts 5:2829), the escalation of persecution, and the eventual scattering of the Christians (Acts 8:1).

Antioch (in Syria): This city sees a "great number" believing when two missionaries break with tradition and preach Jesus to the Gentile Hellenists (Acts 11:19-24). They are in Antioch, incidentally, because of being being driven from Jerusalem because of persecution.

Lystra: After a man is healed, Paul is praised as a god and the people want to make a sacrifice to him and his companion. But a Jewish delegation from neighboring Iconium changes the crowd's mind, stones Paul, and drags him from the city thinking he is dead (Acts 14:19-20).

Paul's exorcism of a slave girl causes a city-wide uprising. Paul and Silas are imprisoned and that results in the conversion of the jailer and his family (Acts 16:16-22).

We can learn some interesting things about city-wide impact from these stories:

1. One person can make a difference.

2. Crowd dynamics are volatile and popularity can quickly change to persecution. 

3. Persecution can cause the gospel to be spread to places it might not otherwise go.

4. Breaking with custom and preaching to people not considered candidates for belief can be a God-thing.

5. Sometimes it's not the large numbers of the city that are impacted but one individual or family.

A sidebar article in my Bible suggests:
"We have the authority of the Scriptures to pray for the gospel to 'run swiftly and be glorified' just as it was in that city long ago … To pray for this: 1] base your prayer requests for your city on biblical cases of cities being impacted by faith and the gospel … and 2] pray for a full activation of God's love among believers in your community" - David Bryant, "How to Pray for Your Community or City" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1695.

PRAYER: Dear God, we need many city-wide revivals! Help me to keep praying for my city and showing love to my neighburs. Amen. 


New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for five thought-provoking observations on city-wide impact, Violet. They turned the world right-side up. Grand if we can have a part in a similar move.


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