12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord. (Acts 13:4–12, NKJV)
Making the Most of Your Moments
Two things have come together for the conversion of the proconsul Sergius Paullus – (1) the miracle and (2) the teaching of the Lord. This is now a pattern in the narrative. Earlier the miracle of healing the lame man (Acts 3:1-9) had amazed the crowds (Acts 3:11). Back then the gathering of astounded people was used as a platform for preaching that led many to faith (Acts 4:4). It is happening again with Paul and Barnabas on the island of Cyprus. Do you see it? There are three parts in the pattern.
Part 1 – The Attention Grabber
First, there is the attention grabber. In the rebuke of the false prophet Paul gets the attention of the proconsul (Acts 13:9-11). The sorcerer and deceiver Elymas had opposed the work of the Spirit (Acts 13:8). Now the false prophet was being used by the Spirit to show that (i) God is greater, (ii) there is no peace or fellowship with Christianity and the mystics of this world, and (iii) that Paul should be heard. That brings us to the next part in the pattern.
Part 2 – Teaching Time
Second, there is the teaching time. Paul did not waste what he had been given – the undivided attention of the Roman official. What did Paul do? He taught the proconsul. The teaching of Paul amazed the student. It changed him. How much? That brings us to the final part in the pattern.
Part 3 – Conversion
Third, there is conversion. This is not on you. We do not convert people. The Lord has only called us to be witnesses to the truth (Acts 1:8); changing people’s hearts and mind is His work. As it is presented in the text the belief of Sergius Paullus happened as a result of (1) the attention grabber and (2) the teaching time. It was all used by the Spirit to bring about faith in Jesus.
Are there timeless principles and probing questions here? I see at least one of each. The Spirit of the Lord works through moments both good and bad to get the attention of people. The same Spirit then works through the missionary to explain the gospel and exhort people to make a decision. Finally, the Spirit of the Lord causes the listening person to believe in Jesus. Paul and Barnabas have been called away from the comfort of fellowship in Antioch to a mission of making Jesus known. Along the way amazing moments, good and bad, are being used to get the attention of the people they will meet. As effective missionaries they use such moments to make Christ known. The question is, on my missionary journey what am I doing with my moments?
Here is a small action plan for making the most of your moments:
- Pray (Acts 13:3) – Ask God to show you how to make the most of your moments, to reveal the nature of your missionary journey, to lead your travels, and to help you deal with your own fears.
- Prepare (Acts 10:38) – Moments good and bad come upon us. But some of them can be made. Consider making some good moments and then using them as a platform to present Christ. In this time also spend time with Jesus learning the gospel so that you can share it effectively.
- Present (Acts 13:12) – When the moment comes turn the attention to Jesus. Present the gospel – the good news – to the person while you have their attention. let the Lord do the rest.
In His grip by His grace,
Roderick L. Barnes, Sr.