“The Best and the Worst”
Acts 18: 2: “He (Paul) found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.” St. Paul had just concluded his Athenian campaign with less than sterling results. Aquila and Priscilla had just been kicked out of Rome simply for being Jews. It seemed like a low point for the three of them, but little did they know their best ministry days lay just ahead; as they stayed in Corinth a year and a half and built a great Church there. You never know when the Lord will bring you to new heights—keep the faith!
Tuesday, September 22: “Still in Favor”
Esther 5: 2, 3: “It happened when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand … Then the king said to her, ‘What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom it will be given to you.’” Esther had heard nothing from the king for a solid month (Esther 4: 11). Did he still care for her? Did he still know she was alive? Yes, and yes. Even when circumstances indicate to the contrary, Christ (King Ahasuerus) still has His eye on His bride (Queen Esther) and bestows His favor upon her.
Wednesday, September 23: “Highs and Lows”
Luke 4: 1, 2a: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.” In the high point of His life up to that time, Jesus has just been baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit, and supernaturally affirmed by His Father (Luke 3: 21, 22). Joy! But then, for His baptismal party the Spirit sends Him into the wilderness to face satan. Perhaps Jesus would have preferred Max’s, but again we see that, high times or low times, God has His hand on us at all times. Oh yes, and Jesus wins the battle (Luke 4: 13).
Thursday, September 24: “Ups and Downs”
Psalm 85: 1; 4: “O Lord, You showed favor to Your land; You restored the captivity of Jacob ... Restore us, O God of Jacob, and cause Your indignation toward us to cease.” Sometimes we feel God’s favor towards us; sometimes we feel His indignation. Sometimes both in the same psalm; sometimes both in the same day. To level out this roller coaster ride, God gives us a great gift: faith. It teaches and empowers us to go beyond feelings, even sight; and makes us “Trust in Him at all times, O people.” (Psalm 62: 8)
Friday, September 25: “Ins and Outs”
Acts 19: 34: “… a single outcry arose from them all as they shouted for about two hours, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’” St. Paul had spent two years in Ephesus, his longest stay ever, and experienced great success (vv. 10-12, 20). But even after this, there were still a number of Ephesians who were quite fervent in their exaltation of a false idol. As someone used to say, “In life, one day you’re in, the next day you’re out.” But never forget that every day is the day the Lord has made (Psalm 118: 24).
Saturday, September 26: “Short and Long”
Luke 4: 43: “He (Jesus) said to them, ‘I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.’” How can we remain faithful through the highs and lows, the ups and downs, the ins and outs? Among other things, we must always remember our purpose. God’s purpose for us never changes (Romans 11: 29), whatever our evaluation of its current effectiveness might be. Looking at short-term results can be disappointing at times, but keeping our eyes on the long-term purpose (and promises) of God will sustain our lives and our ministry for the duration.