A Successful Life
Devotional Reading: Matthew 28: 16-20
Lesson Scripture: Acts 28: 23-31
Lesson Aims: To summarize Paul’s faithful sharing of the Gospel message; to recognize the importance of our witness; and to allow God to use us in accordance with His will.
Background: Our fall quarter ends on a high note. The study of “A Living Faith” from Hebrews, I Corinthians and Acts has fired up our spirits to live for Him even more. Hebrews and I Corinthians enlightened us on “What is faith?” We realized that faith is much more than a recitation or showing up for worship. That intangible element that gives hope in every situation is faith.
The first two lessons in October opened our eyes to the depth of faith (remember Stephen). Lessons three and four revealed that faith is personal and worth sharing. It can never be selfish! This month, we saw how far faith can take a believer. Paul referred to himself several times as a prisoner for Christ (Ephesians 3:1). Once converted and trained, there was no doubt that he was on the side of Jesus. No conversion was more widely known than his. The change that took place in Paul’s life was real. For the Jews, they viewed him as a traitor. Those who followed Jesus (not called Christians yet) were simply afraid of him. He wasn’t accepted until Barnabas stood up for him in Acts 9:26-30.
The lessons followed Paul after his three Missionary Journeys were completed. He preached and taught before Jewish leaders, government officials, fellow prisoners aboard the ship, and the residents of Malta (Melita). The Roman centurion, all of the prisoners and at least Luke remained on Malta for three months. Setting out for Syracuse with all needed provisions, they stayed there for three days. They also stopped at Rhegium (REE jih uhm) on the southern tip of the peninsula and Puteoli (pyoo TEE oh ligh). On that last stop, some believing brothers welcomed the party for a week. By the time the group neared Rome, another welcoming party escorted them into the city. Not viewed as an enemy of Rome, Paul was allowed to live in a house with a guard.
Lesson: Three days after his arrival, he summons the Jewish leaders to the house to discuss the circumstances surrounding his house arrest. To share the Gospel, it is important that they know he isn’t a criminal. It is his faithful stand for the Risen Savior that has him in this predicament. On the appointed day, more leaders show up than expected. Since they are all Jews, Paul tries to persuade them that Jesus is Messiah based on The Law and the prophets. Expounding all day, some believed; others did not. The discussion becomes so divisive that some leave.
The apostle quotes Isaiah 6:9-10. Jesus used the same passage in every Gospel (Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:39-40). The verses mean that the rebelliousness of the Chosen moves God to have the Word carried to the Gentiles. They will listen!! For the next two years while under house arrest, Paul continues to share the Gospel boldly with anyone who visits him.
Application: What is the measure of success? According to the world, Paul failed. From God’s point of view, he was quite successful. You see God’s measures are different from the world’s. God asks; “Is He first; does your life resemble His teachings; are you faithful no matter what?” How did you answer the questions? God is pleased when we live a life of faith, not perfection. Paul lived what he believed. That faith took him all over the Mediterranean World to share the Gospel. Our world may be much smaller but just as important.
Is the world better off because you passed through? Do you love like God, with your whole being? Inventory your life. We must also remember that our lives touch people that we don’t know. Do we make a difference? See you next quarter!