Teaching Series
Thursday—Culture Makers: The Commoners

Series: Advancing
Message: Culture Makers: The Commoners
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Nathan Brown
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Jessyka Albert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Acts 18:1–17 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: Having worked for a number of years as a magazine editor for the church, I have received more than my fair share of letters from earnest folks who claim to have received some special message or insight directly from God. Even in these days of email, these messages seem to most often arrive in the post, often handwritten. Of course, their burden is usually that the warning message they have “received” must be published as a matter of urgency.

It’s easy—and probably wise—to be skeptical in such cases, although perhaps “discerning” is a better way to put it. But if we take God seriously, and the Bible’s testimony of how He works in the lives of His people, we must accept that sometimes God does speak directly to us and to others. From time to time, He even does this today.

While Paul was ministering in Corinth, he met challenges and successes, threats and joys. Amid these came a vision with a message of affirmation and reassurance for Paul: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people” (Acts 18:9,10, NLT).

The message is reminiscent of that delivered by the Hebrew prophet Elisha to his nervous servant confronting the Aramean armies surrounding the city of Dothan: “‘Don’t be afraid!’ Elisha told him. ‘For there are more on our side than on theirs!’” (2 Kings 6:16, NLT). This seems a recurring theme in messages from God to Bible characters—be encouraged, God’s kingdom and His work are larger than you might have noticed, keep on in your work with God. 

So how do you respond if someone at your church comes to you to tell you they have had a vision from God? For many of us, the first tendency is to back away quietly but quickly. But we also need to listen out for a message of encouragement. Not that God won’t speak with warnings and reproof, but He will also speak with love and encouragement for His people—and that’s a Voice that is always worth hearing.

Recalibrate: When in your life has God spoken to or led you directly? What about through someone else?

Respond: Pray for God’s leading to work in your life in whatever ways He chooses to reveal Himself to you. 

Research: Using a concordance or online search, explore some of the Bible’s many “Do not be afraid” statements.

Nathan Brown is a writer and editor at Signs Publishing in Warburton, Victoria, Australia. He has written numerous books; his most recent is Engage: Faith that Matters.

Using red, blue, green, and yellow blown-up balloons, say “Red is love, blue is kind, green is good, and yellow is joy.” Play a game of hitting the balloons up in the air and then calling out a color (or name of an attribute) for your child to grab. Hold on to God’s good actions today.

Ask your mom or dad about their favorite activity. Did they have someone show them what they needed to do to do it well? Do they keep in contact with that person? Do you have a special person who helps you? Whether or not you do, know that God is getting one ready just for you!

Who is someone you wholly trust to give you good, Godly advice? What is it about them that gives you peace in their wisdom? Take some time today to give them a call or send a text or card letting them know how much you appreciate their willingness to let God speak to you through them.

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