June 30, 2021

The Overcoming Spirit

Acts 16:6-10

They tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. . . . Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia . . . begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

—  Acts 16:7-9

The book of Acts is the story of the Holy Spirit spreading the good news of Jesus out into the world. The Spirit fills believers in Christ and empowers them to be his witnesses. We like to be comfortable, and we often stay cloistered in our own communities. But the Spirit keeps pushing the church to take risks and spread the gospel to every corner of the world.

The Spirit moved the first Christians out from Jerusalem to Samaria and other nations nearby (Acts 8-10). Then the Spirit appointed missionaries to go to other lands (Acts 13). Our reading today shows that the Spirit wanted to spread the gospel into Europe (Macedonia, Greece, and beyond). So he blocked the missionaries from going another way.

Do you feel the push of the Holy Spirit? Go beyond your comfort zone and get to know someone who doesn’t know Jesus. Keep listening to the Spirit, even if it means changing your plans.

The Holy Spirit overcomes all kinds of problems as well. The Spirit enabled the church to deal with racism (6:1-7), persecution (8:1-9:31), conflict with government (12:1-24), differences among leadership (15:1-16:5), powers of evil (19:13-20), and unbelief (28:23-28). After facing each of these problems, the church grew (Acts 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; 28:28). Likewise, the Spirit can overcome any fears, anxieties, and hesitations that we may have about sharing the good news.

Spirit, give me the courage to share your love with the people you want me to meet today. Amen.

About the author — Dean Deppe

Dean Deppe has been a pastor in inner-city, suburban, and rural ­churches. Currently he teaches New Testament theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. His courses include one on the parables of Jesus. He and his wife have four grown children.

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