Thursday, August 18, 2016

Priscilla - pulling together

Our studies yesterday showed us that Priscilla and her husband were no strangers to service; their spiritual gifts enabled them to minister and to serve.

If we take a peek at the chapters preceding this one, we see that Paul had run into a peck of trouble. We can see that God brought Priscilla and Aquila into his life at just the right time.....
Remember back in chapter sixteen? Paul was thrown into prison and beaten within an inch of his life, as my gramma used to say. Then, at the start of chapter seventeen, a Thessalonican mob besieges the home in which he seeks shelter and hospitality, but he escapes into the night.
Later in chapter seventeen, Paul makes it as far as Berea, and has success, but again, trouble follows him. He is meeting great obstacles in Athens in the remainder of the chapter.

I expect that when he came to Corinth, he may have been just short of extreme exhaustion, and that he is not only physically tired, but mentally, too. He's traveling alone, after all. But now his path crosses that of this sweet couple. It seems that God uses them to encourage Paul in his work. With their help, and the strength that only God can give, he begins to preach in the synagogue in Corinth, and people are becoming believers.

But again, in verse 9, there must be things not detailed in our Bibles, for there are trials and difficulty coming Paul's way. But this time, he is not alone. Of course, Paul has always known that God is with him, but now he has mortal friends as well. Priscilla and Aquila are there, pulling together with him. They responded in obedience to the Lord, and used their gifts to encourage and minister to the missionary, Paul.

There may be people that we know who are quietly struggling. Whether it's the pastor of our church, the lady up the street, or the teen in a home that's breaking up, people can be just at the brink of calling it quits. They may be ready to walk away from everything they know, because the pressures of life are just crushing them. They feel as if they are all alone -- they desperately need someone to care.
They feel like David did:
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;    no one is concerned for me.I have no refuge;    no one cares for my life. (Psalm 142:4) 
These are people that God has placed within our spheres of influence; these are people that we can encourage. It doesn't take long to send an email, and it doesn't cost much to send a card. It costs nothing to send a quick text message, inviting someone to talk. Letting someone know that you are thinking of them, and that you care, can mean all the difference in the world!
Like cold water to a weary soul    is good news from a distant land. (Proverbs 25:25)

We see Priscilla's (and Aquila's) discernment in the final episode of chapter eighteen. Apollos had come from Alexandria; well educated and eloquent, and speaking with a pure heart, he moved his hearers. But he lacked a complete knowledge of the full story of Jesus Christ. Priscilla and Aquila discerned that his motives were pure and genuine, and they came alongside him to instruct him. Not in public, to humiliate him, but privately, to invest in him and the ministry he could have. This is another role that is important among believers today -- that of lovingly mentoring younger Christians. Ensuring their growth in the Lord.  Need some inspiration? Check out our instructions in the second chapter of Titus!
Remember in Romans 14, Paul is talking about our spheres of influence?
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. (Romans 14:7)
In today's language, each one of us is being influenced, and at the same time, influencing others! I heard an old preacher say that each of us will go to Heaven with the hand prints of others on us. They have been used of God to help us, rebuke us, encourage us, instruct us, and stand by us when we feel we are alone. When we are open to what God wants us to do with our gifts, it's as if we pour a little of ourselves into another's life.

Priscilla and Aquila had been open to God's leadership and went with Paul to Ephesus. Then they were there when Apollos came, and their instructions helped and encouraged him. The Bible says that Apollos went on to have a great influence on the area, as an effective preacher of God's gospel.
When everyday people take time to invest in others, what a difference we can make in our world!

Has God brought someone to mind that you can bless with encouragement? Let's all pull together for the kingdom of God!

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