“Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.” Acts 13:15 (Acts 13:13-41)
From Paphos, ah coastal city on tha southwest coast of Cyprus, Saul Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark sailed ter Perga. When they reached port, John Mark left tha pair ter return ter Jerusalem.
Thar be much speculation as ter why John Mark departed Saul Paul and Barnabas right then. Clearly from Saul Paul’s later writings he whar miffed about John Mark’s leaving. Regardless, tha lad taking off like he done left tha pair in a lurch. No doubt Saul Paul be thinking of this passage in Ecclesiastes when John Mark took off. “Though one may be overpowered and two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
From Perga they trekked ter Pisidian Antioch, a hike of about three days. On Shabbat, what we call tha Sabbath, they entered the synagogue and sat down. After tha reading from tha Law and tha Prophets, tha leaders of tha synagogue sent word ter ’em, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”
Exhortation, urging, encouragement, persuasion, insistence, warning, admonishment, charge . . . this be tha invite from tha synagogue leaders. May that we might receive an invite ter speak a word of exhortation ter folks. In fact, why not make it yer task ter day ter ask Skipper ter open a door fer ya to do jest that. Who knows but what that mate one deck down whose name ya ne’er learned might pipe up and say, “Tell me, why ya always be so chipper and at peace whilst others be worried sick?”
Standing, Saul Paul motioned with his hand, as though indicating that he had, in fact, some words ter speak. “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors. He made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt. Under his mighty power he led them out of that country. For about forty years he endured their rebellious conduct in the wilderness. Then he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years.”
Fer ah good while longer Saul Paul recounted how Skipper had provided prophets and kings and leaders. Then he traced tha lineage of King David ter tha coming Messiah, until at last he come ter his main point. “God has brought to Israel the Savior, as he promised. Before the coming of the Savior, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. It is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.”
He said a great deal more ’bout sacrifices and plots ter kill tha Sun and such, how tha Sun whar, in fact, killed, then he concluded with this word of exhortation. “Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: ‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.'”
If ya be one who struggles ter share tha good spiel with folks, follow tha pattern of Saul Paul.
First, begin with a common connection between yer self and them ya be exhorting. Saul Paul whar a Jew. His audience be mostly Jews.
Second, point out how Skipper be in creation all ’round us. By recounting tha blessings and providence of Skipper over 450 years, Saul Paul caused some ter see Skipper’s hand in ever day events.
Third, end with a wee bit of conviction. Platitudes may lift attitudes fer a time, but only tha Sun can change tha altitude of a soul. Fer we can get tha Sun, we need ter see that we be living in darkness.
Things in common, Skip in Creation, tha Sun shining his bright light on things we like ter do in darkness. (Ya may think no one sees, but Skipper and tha Sun sees all.) This be one way ter share tha good spiel.
As Saul Paul and Barnabas left tha synagogue, folks invited tha pair ter speak more ’bout these things on the next Shabbat. When tha congregation be dismissed, many of tha Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed tha pair. Thar Saul Paul and Barnabas talked with ’em.
This be proof that ya be sharing tha good spiel with kindness and love: that folks ask ya ter speak more. Ne’er back off speaking Skip’s truth about tha consequences of sin, but also ne’er back off speaking in love. Tha very souls of some may depend on how well ya share tha good spiel.