The world says, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die.”
But the Word of God gives a totally opposite response. “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17, NASB95)
The world has nothing to offer but the satisfaction we can find here, but God gives to us a joy which cannot be measured as we know His presence in our lives.
In Acts 13 the gospel was being shared and many were being saved, and the Gentiles were even begging to hear more. This was an exciting time, especially seeing the light go on in the Gentiles hearts knowing that the salvation of God was being offered to them. Of course, there were those Jews who were not happy about this. But the disciples knew why they were there, and they responded with, “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47, NASB95)
“When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.” (Acts 13:48–50, NASB95)
You might think that it would have been very discouraging to see so many people responding to the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ and then being driven away from this incredible event, but this was not the case. Verses 51 and 52 give us their response, “But they [Paul and Barnabas] shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them [Jews and leaders of the city] and went to Iconium. And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
We see linked here their joy and their being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is God’s Spirit in us that blossoms into joy even in trials. In Galatians 522-23 we read, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
The disciples were not shaken by their opposition, but saw it as an opportunity to move on and see what God had next in store for them. Acts 15:1 records what happened next. “In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.” And of course resistance arose again, and again they moved on, and still again God brought more people to salvation through their words.
Their attention was not captured by their foes, but by their God and the leading of His Spirit, and knowing that their God was doing the work He intended they moved forward with joy knowing they were where God wanted them and doing what He wanted them to do. For Paul this would also include several imprisonments and many, many more people coming to know and grow in His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (10/23)
As you turn your attention to Me, feel the Light My presence shining upon you. Open your mind and heart to receive My heavenly smile of approval. Let My gold-tinged Love wash over you and soak into the depths of your being. As you are increasingly filled with My Being, you experience joyous union with Me: I in you, and you in Me. Your joy-in-Me and My Joy-in-you become intertwined and inseparable. I suffuse your soul with Joy in my Presence; at My right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20–23, NASB95)
“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11, NASB95)