Do you consider yourself adventurous? Adventure is “an unusual or exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” Adventure with Jesus rarely means easy. “Typically hazardous” implies taking the risk that you might have to live life in the extremes. In the last blog, we looked at how following Christ on adventure will help you to find and fulfill God’s purpose for you. This is post #9 in the Radical Acts blog series. In this article, we will look at how following Christ on adventure means we can live life in the extremes and still have joy.
Listen to this post as a similar podcast from our Radical Acts Bible Study covering the book of Acts in the New Testament. (11 lessons)
The Unquenchable Fire of the Spirit
Wildfires spread as long as there is fuel to feed them. Barriers such as large bodies of water, mounds of dirt piled high, and lifeless deserts stop them cold. The fire of the Spirit began spreading in Philippi and continued to spread throughout Macedonia. Receptive hearts ignited with fire; cold hearts barred the work of the Spirit within them. Enemies of the gospel kept trying to put out the fire.
Yet, the fire of the Holy Spirit burns brightly in believers who are committed to serving Jesus Christ regardless of the cost. Amazingly, and contrary to natural thinking, people in the midst of hardships and persecution respond with joy to the gospel of grace, and churches grow.
Life in the Extremes
Do you remember our definition of adventure from the first post in this series? Adventure is “an unusual or exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” Adventure with Jesus rarely means easy. “Typically hazardous” implies taking the risk that you might have to live life in the extremes—hot and cold, comfort and misery, rich and poor, or well-fed and hungry.
As you read Acts chapters 16, 17, and 18, you will see that Paul and Silas were familiar with life in the extremes.
Living in the Extremes #1:
One day Paul and Silas were comfortably staying at the house of a prosperous woman named Lydia.
When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. (Acts 16:15)
The next day they were beaten and chained in a cold prison, released by an earthquake, and escorted out of town.
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. … The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. (Acts 16:22-26; 38-39)
Life in the Extremes #2:
The Bereans responded to the gospel preached to them in large numbers.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. (Acts 17:11-12)
The Athenians barely gave it their attention.
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others. (Acts 17:32-34)
Life in the Extremes #3:
At times, Paul worked as a tentmaker to support himself.
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. (Acts 18:1-3)
Other times, he was supported by generous gifts so that he could devote himself entirely to preaching.
When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. (Philippians 4:15-16)
Life in the Extremes #4:
Paul entered Corinth alone.
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. (Acts 18:1)
He leaves accompanied by new co-workers and forever friends Priscilla and Aquila.
Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.(Acts 18:18)
Life in the Extremes #5:
Some prominent God-fearing women in Psidian Antioch rejected the message about Jesus.
But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. (Acts 13:50)
In Berea, many prominent women believed the gospel.
As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. (Acts 17:12)
Regarding those women, I found this information:
In a culture that usually degraded women, considering them not worth educating, notice the references to prominent women responding to the gospel (v. 12). These are women who have a voice and a platform in their communities. “Prominent (NIV) /leading (NAS)” translates the Greek protos (first in rank, influence and honor). Macedonian women had a well-earned reputation for their independence and enterprising spirit. If some of the women who believed the gospel at this time were the wives of leading citizens, the initiative to believe was theirs, not their husbands’ initiative. (F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts, p. 323)
Men and women responded to the gospel or rejected it. Paul and Silas were well-received in some communities so they could stay there for a long time. But in other communities, they were given a short time of hospitality then forcibly expelled so that they were on the road again.
Life in the Extremes #6:
Paul described other extremes he experienced in 2 Corinthians chapter 6.
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)
This living in the extremes had become such a part of Paul’s life following Christ that he can say a few years later in Philippians chapter 4,
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation … I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
Paul practiced learning to be content amidst the extremes of life and discovered that those extremes gave him opportunity to reveal Jesus in his life.
What is absolutely amazing is the number of times Paul is joyful and rejoicing during those extremes. Sure, I can be joyful when I have plenty of money and am really comfy in life. But how do you live joyfully when the storms of life hit?
Joy in the Extremes
When we go through such difficulties of life, we all have what we would consider acceptable outcomes. Joy requires us to release our expectation of acceptable outcomes. Doing so helps us to overcome fear in our lives as well as to be content with whatever God does for us.
Paul learned how to do that.
[Paul] could maintain a truly joyful attitude, even in unpleasant circumstances, because he derived his joy from seeing God glorified—rather than from seeing himself exalted. (Dr. Constable’s Notes on Philippians 2023 Edition, p. 34)
Paul could rejoice at any one of God’s acceptable outcomes. You and I can do that, too.
Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll said this,
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. (Chuck Swindoll)
Sounds like we need to prepare ourselves ahead of time with a God-honoring response, doesn’t it?
As Paul wrote,
In spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
Unquenchable joy! That is what Paul modeled for us throughout the book of Acts.
Our reactions to those extremes, whether comfort or pain, reveal to those around us the reality of Jesus Christ in our lives. In fact, we discover more about our own hearts as we face the extremes of life—whether we will be faithful to Christ alone in the midst of what the world might consider “success” or “failure.” In each, we can learn to say with Paul, “To live is Christ.” (Radical Acts Bible Study, p. 122)
On the adventure of living life in the extremes with Christ, we can do it joyfully through the Holy Spirit’s presence in us. Praise God for that blessing!
The next post will look at how following Christ on adventure will certainly test our loyalty to Him.
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with His Spirit’s transforming power. And say yes to a life of adventure with Him!
All of the above information is covered in the Radical Acts Bible Study of the book of Acts.
- Radical Acts Bible Study
- Satisfied Series 7 Podcasts (Acts series)
- Book of Acts—Get fired up for adventure!
- Acts 1: Trusting Jesus When Making Decisions
- Acts 2: Spirit Baptism
- Acts 4-6: Spirit Filling
- Acts 8-12: Paul, A Misdirected Life Transformed
- Acts 2-11: Peter, An Ordinary Life Transformed
- Acts 13: Support Causes Aligned with God’s Purpose
- Acts 13-16: Finding Your Purpose During the Adventure
- Acts 17-19: Living Life in the Extremes
- Acts 20: Jesus as Lord Deserves Our Loyalty
- Acts 21-26: Experience God’s Goodness on the Adventure
- Acts 27-28: Adventure in God’s Protective Hand
- Romans 12:1-2 Dare to Be Different from Your World
- Release Your Expectations of Acceptable Outcomes