You’ve got to love Acts 13, where Paul told the Jews their own story. God selected them. They were a despised people, held in slavery, abused and forsaken. But in the middle of their journey, God rescued them and raised them up for a divine purpose. He made them a promise, and then He fulfilled it.
Although they conquered seven nations after crossing Jordan to possess the land, they were once again slaves, this time of the Roman Empire. God responded by depositing a Savior in their midst, whom they rejected.
A key verse for me is found in Acts 13:47, where Paul reminded the Jews that God made them “a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (NIV).
We all know people who search their whole lives for clarity of purpose, a mission statement, something that will compel them with passion toward an end goal. Well, here it is. You would think they would jump on it. You would imagine that they would give up everything to get back on track to pursue the purpose for which they had been created.
Not so fast. We face the same struggles the Jews did. In the end, it really comes down to the pursuit of God versus the predictability of man.
Life is a constant struggle between God’s plan and the devil’s schemes. Even in heaven, Lucifer had another option, and a third of the angels were deceived. Though the Lord has spoken His Word over us, we often yield to another voice. In the midst of the struggle, we often lose our own voice and the influence that goes with it.
No one succeeds who has tried to serve two masters.
I was recently watching an episode of the CBS news program 60 Minutes about Broadway producer Vy Higgensen, who runs a nonprofit ministry called “Vy Higgensen’s School for Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts.” During the year that CBS correspondent Leslie Stahl followed this story, she discovered that Vy targets African-American teens in the five buroughs of New York City.
Vy had watched as a set of fast-paced and often tragic circumstances robbed these kids of their potential. In response, she is responsible for rescuing hundreds of kids who had become so trapped in the world around them that they had lost their way.
After screening them through auditions, Vy spends nine months molding the students into a dynamic choir of confident young people who reclaim their voice and rediscover their purpose. Watching the program, I was inspired by the radical change in their confidence in just one year.
Life’s circumstances often rob people of the original voice they have been given. Sometimes our voice becomes muted, and the sound is indistinguishable.
In almost every recent article about the church in the Western world, an alarm has been sounded. Statistical analysis suggests that without some kind of intervention, the church will drift into oblivion. The favor that the church enjoyed in the past has become threatened. That voice of influence is often drowned out in myriad other sounds.
However, I am convinced that we can reclaim our voice. But it won’t happen unless we use it.
Speak. Communicate in a way that others can understand! Sin, shame, spiritual sickness and solitude are clearly evident when our voice has become muted. But, there are at least four pathways that lead back to a place of influence: compassion, courage, character and competency.
Paul boldly reminded those who believed that God had clearly defined their destiny. When they embraced that destiny, “the Word of the Lord spread through the whole region” (v. 49).
Let’s speak and reclaim our voice. The destiny of many people depends on it!
” ‘Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ ” (Matt. 5:16).
By: Glenn Burris Jr., president of The Foursquare Church
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