Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Day 90: Acts 28:11-22 & Prov. 29:1-9 - What Does It Look Like to Be Wholeheartedly Committed to the Gospel?

Today's Reading: Acts 28:11-22 & Prov. 29:1-9

"But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” - Acts 28:22, ESV

What Does It Look Like to Be Wholeheartedly Committed to the Gospel?

Have you ever known someone who was relentlessly committed to something? I recently saw the movie Hacksaw Ridge, a graphically violent World War 2 movie directed by Mel Gibson. The movie tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a pacifist who volunteered to be a medic. Early in the movie, Doss is absolutely committed to his pacifist convictions, enduring torment in basic training because of his refusal to fire a weapon and his equally strong commitment to serving as an unarmed combat medic. The last part of the movie shows Doss indescribably determined commitment to save the lives of his comrades by getting them off of Hacksaw Ridge, Okinawa, under intense enemy fire. In the end. Doss saved 75 men and was the first American to be awarded the Medal of Honor without ever firing a shot.

Today's passage in Acts 28 shows us the Desmond Doss-like determination of the Apostle Paul to take the Gospel to the Jewish people. Paul has spent nearly three years of his life in prison, unjustly accused by Jewish leaders of attacking and undermining the Jewish nation and traditions. Prior to being imprisoned, Paul had been mocked, beaten, harassed, stoned, whipped and utterly rejected again and again by Jewish-led mobs across Asia Minor and Greece. Yet here we see him, after so many years of such intense mistreatment, seeking out the Jewish leaders in Rome. Why? He wants to have an opportunity to tell them about Jesus.

Paul's determination and relentless commitment was heroic, even awe-inspiring. Yet he is not the only one in today's passage who shows a wholehearted commitment to the Gospel. Christians in Puteoli hosted Paul and his companions for seven days. After Paul made his way to Rome itself, the Christians from all over Rome traveled to see Paul. These believers practiced hospitality and risked public ridicule or worse to identify with the Gospel and support Paul. You don't need to be a world-traveling apostle in order to be wholly committed to the Gospel.

This kind of wholehearted commitment to the Gospel doesn't come from our own human efforts. At the beginning of the book of Acts, Jesus told His disciples, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8, ESV) As we have walked from chapter 1 to chapter 28, we have seen the Holy Spirit empower His people to take this Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome. The real hero is not Paul or the Christians who hosted him, but the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, You alone save us and empower us and use us for Your glory. You alone can give us, by Your Holy Spirit, a wholehearted commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank You for all that You have done for us, are doing in us and will do through us. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Prayer Based on Proverbs 29:1-9:

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
    will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
    but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
    but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
By justice a king builds up the land,
    but he who exacts gifts tears it down.
A man who flatters his neighbor
    spreads a net for his feet.
An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
    but a righteous man sings and rejoices.
A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
    a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
Scoffers set a city aflame,
    but the wise turn away wrath.
If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
    the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.   

Heavenly  Father, make us teachable and responsive to your reproof. Let us love wisdom and act in justice. Lord, keep us from flattery and from evil. Guard us by Your grace, that we may walk in righteousness before You. We need Your wisdom to guide us and to guard us. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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