Today’s Reading: Acts 14:1 NIV
1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.
Acts 14:1 New Century Version
1 In Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went as usual to the synagogue. They spoke so well that a great many Jews and Greeks believed.
I was taught how to give an effective oral presentation in school. Once the subject matter was assigned, I would spend a considerable amount of time gathering research, weighing opinions, and learning as much as I could about the topic before preparing my outline. My professors preferred I use some mode of visual aide, to help draw the listeners in. The preferred presentation package would almost always include a PowerPoint® presentation, along with some tangible visual aide to help illustrate a particular point of the chosen topic. No matter how much I prepared and practiced in advance, I always got nervous just before I stood up to speak. Knowing the butterflies were coming helped me better focus on each important point of the presentation. Even with a well-prepared outline in front of me, and a computer to keep my hands busy, I do not recall a single presentation when I didn’t feel a little bit shaky before speaking.
My husband Jeff has an extraordinary gift for teaching and preaching. If you asked him, Jeff would tell you that he also experiences Sunday butterflies, often evidenced by a slight stutter. Jeff will tap his foot on the floor to keep a steady pace as he articulates the words God has given Him to speak. His deep voice carries well in a crowded room; without a microphone, my squeaky little voice tends to fade away into the crowd. My mother can even understand Jeff and she is profoundly deaf! There is something very special about the sound of a pastor’s strong voice - it is truly a gift from God.
Jeff sometimes wonders after worship, whether his delivery of Christ’s saving message is clear and convincing for all who came to listen. Some weekends are obviously easier than others. I remember one particular Sunday when Jeff preached the morning services sporting a broken elbow from a fall he took early that morning before worship. Obviously, he didn’t know his elbow was broken until after church. He refused to take his suit jacket off and let me assess the damage until after he had finished delivering his Sunday sermons. The only reason we even went to the ER that day was because he needed a few stitches and he kept wondering why he didn’t have enough strength in his hand to hold the Bible up. The triage nurse was alarmed that it had been over seven hours before Jeff sought medical treatment. His quiet response, “I had to preach,” seemed to surprise her. After living with this preacher man for thirty-two years, nothing surprises me anymore!
Paul and Barnabas walked from Antioch to Iconium, a small town located in modern day Turkey. There was some sense of familiarity as they entered the synagogue together. Paul and Barnabas were literally surrounded by a group of strangers, whose culture, traditions and beliefs were somewhat similar. The Jews and Greeks came that day with one common goal; to listen, learn and worship. These presenters did not have a smart board or PowerPoint® at their fingertips; there were no Kodak® photographs of the Lord Jesus Christ to pass around the crowd. Every word that was spoken had to be clear and concise, painting a visual image in the hearts and minds of all who entered the synagogue that day. Do you think Paul and Barnabas had a case of the butterflies before they spoke?
The power of the Holy Spirit was evident, filling the room with a fresh breath of new life. It is this same power that works in and through our pastors and teachers, you and me, to help us convey God’s Word with a lost and hurting world. Let go of your butterflies and allow the Lord Jesus Christ to use you for a well spoken Word. Ask the Lord to fill you with His sweet Holy Spirit today. It is the Father’s gift, given freely to all who receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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