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God Always Surprises

By Abbey Hoffman
 
Monday, March 22, 2010

Scripture Verses
Acts 18:1-17

 1After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

 5When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.[a] 6But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."

 7Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.

 9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." 11So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

 12While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court. 13"This man," they charged, "is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law."

 14Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, "If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things." 16So he had them ejected from the court. 17Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio showed no concern whatever.


Devotion
On Paul's second missionary journey, Paul leaves Athens and arrives in Corinth.  This town was known for particularly lewd idol worship and unsavory practices.  What good could be found here for Paul?  Yet here God leads Paul to meet Aquila and Priscilla.  The couple had recently been forced to leave their home in Rome due to Caesar forcing out all of the Jews.  At the time, that must have been very upsetting to them.  However, this turns out to be the greatest thing that happens to them. As a result, they are led to meet Paul. God turns what would have been considered to be a time heart break into a miracle.  In God's foresight, Paul is able to join them in their home and occupation of tent-making.   This allows Paul to teach the couple to spread the Good News of Christ.

As Paul teaches in the synagogue, he eventually becomes harassed to the point where he has to shake the dust off and move on to teaching Gentiles.  He may have felt frustrated that no Jews seemed to be accepting Christ.  However, God surprises again and even the leader of the local synagogue himself comes to Christ.  God tells Paul to continue preaching boldly as God is with Paul and no harm will come to him.  As Paul continues preaching the Good News, some attempt to have him prosecuted under a new governor.  Not only were the charges dropped, the new leader of the synagogue ends up beaten in the very courtroom where Paul was accused.  All this happens without Paul having to open his mouth.  I would guess even Paul would have thought that was an amazing turn of events.


Prayer
Father God, thank you for our many blessings, especially the ones we cannot see at the time.  Please forgive us of our sins.  Guide the Spirit within us to remind us that things happen in Your time and in Your ways and not the ways that our human minds would expect.  Remind us that Father, You are limitless and always full of surprises.  Amen.