When We Know What We’re Talking About
Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:
’Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’
As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath.
And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.
The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
Paul spoke boldly to this synagogue, and they loved it. They loved what he had to say because he was speaking their language and talking about things that they loved to talk about. He also gave them some truth that any sincere person would be drawn to.
When he gave them that seemingly harsh warning at the end, he was quoting their favorite Habakkuk the prophet. That gave him authority and familiarity, like an insider’s inside joke.
They wanted to listen to him the next week and they were talking about it as they left.
Some of this should be credited to the Holy Spirit, who always goes before us in victory. Some of it could also be credited to Paul, who was ready to talk the moment he had the chance. He took the opportunity and mixed in what they were familiar with and what good news he had related to it. He wasn’t putting on an act— he really did know enough about the prophet Habakkuk to quote him verbatim.
On Sunday and on the podcast, Bret has talked about being ready to talk to whatever crowd gives you the opportunity. If you’re known as a ‘church person,’ you might have the opportunity to pray before a family meal, answer somebody’s questions about heaven or hell or prayer, or be put not the spot in other ways.
This provokes a great motive to prayer and study. You can pray that God would give you opportunities like that, and then read the scriptures for an answer when the time comes up. A world longing for truth often opens itself up for help when the time is right.
Plan out, even practice in advance how you might pray for dinner at that family reunion. Form a reasonable, graceful, salty (as in salt of the Earth) statement about things in the news so you are ready to give a Holy answer at work. If you know your co-workers are going to be upset about the State of the Union address, pray for the just right thing to say to direct that conversation towards Christ’s mercy.
If you read something good, like in the Daily Bible Readings, or on a blog, think and pray and share it with some friends in those discussions. You’d be surprised at how receptive people can be when you speak with love and truth.