Acts 13:42-14:7

Today’s devotion is written by Pastor Emily Sterling-Strongman.

“Because of the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the disciples were overflowing with happiness.” – Acts 13:52 (CEB)

If you read Acts 13:42-14:7 today, you will find that Paul and Barnabas are at work sharing the message of God’s grace in Jewish synagogues and in various locations throughout modern-day Turkey. Paul and Barnabas were met with mixed reviews from the crowds.

Some Jews and Jewish converts approve of the message that Paul and Barnabas share.

And some do not. Some vehemently oppose Paul and Barnabas.

Paul and Barnabas announce that their message is also for the Gentiles. Some Gentiles enthusiastically respond to God’s word proclaimed through Paul and Barnabas. And some Gentile God-worshippers and other Gentiles harass Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas – two of the greatest proclaimers of the good news of Jesus Christ – experience the joy that comes from seeing people positively respond to their message and they also experience the pain that comes from people rejecting the message of God’s grace. It would be easy for Paul and Barnabas to only judge the success or failure of their efforts by how many people accepted the good news of Jesus Christ and changed their lives as a result. Their joy, their happiness, their sense of self-worth, and their assessment of their ministry fruitfulness all
come from positive response or affirmation from the crowds. Likewise, any rejection from the crowds could lead to feelings of despair, negative self-worth, and fruitlessness in their ministry.

But, that’s not what we read. Instead, we read that because of the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, Paul and Barnabas are overflowing with happiness. Paul and Barnabas find their joy, their happiness, their self-worth, and even their ministry effectiveness not from anything they say or do or accomplish, but from the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives.

Where do you find happiness? Or satisfaction or contentment? From yourself or external people or situations around you? Or from the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit?

How could looking for the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life lead to feelings of happiness, delight, contentment, or peace?

Do you need some happiness? Check out this video.

Please share your ideas, thoughts, comments, and questions. We want to hear them!

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