“[Paul] entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks… So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily...
“I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ... But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God… I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 19:8-10,20; 20:20-21,24,27
There is a time for teaching in the church, and a time for teaching in the marketplace. Paul’s passion for the gospel compelled him, wherever he was, to engage the curious, speak boldly, and introduce people to Jesus. The tentmaker and missionary worked hard and made himself available to present, debate, and reason about the truths of scripture. Schedules and opposition were no restraint for God’s spokesman. He was on His heavenly timetable, and reasoned with the discernment and words of his Savior. (Acts 20:6-7)
God certainly enables and uses our preplanned times of ministry, prepared teaching or supplying of the specified needs. But there is also an element of availability and spontaneity that He builds into our days that has its own spiritual, eternal effect. His word spreads in and through us who are open to being used as conduits in both formal and informal settings. And His word prevails everywhere there are broken people in need of Christ, bringing genuine change, freedom, and life.
How willing am I to reason in the hall? Do I so structure my hours that I will not budge from my agenda, or consider a new venue for service, or entertain any change to routine or ‘comfortable’? Instead, would I daily seek discernment to know where it is God would use me, who it is He wants me to reach and touch and testify to for His sake? The key is counting my life as His, and staying in tune to His pushes and pulls. When yielded to Him and His goals for my life, I respond to every chafe and reordering with willing determination, not resistance.
Where is the Lord calling us that is new, and different, to speak for Him? How willing are we to leave our cozy huddles and enter the halls of those with whom we do not agree, or have much in common? Would we open ourselves to His directing our course, that His word would increase in our culture and world?
Lord, may I decrease and You increase, in my home places and in the halls You call me to go. May Your word prevail and have its way. (John 3:30)