Points to Ponder

Acts 18:10: God Sees His “People in the City”

Acts 18:10 is one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible. That’s where God tells Paul that He has “many people in the city.” It reminds us that He is El Roi (Hebrew: אל ראי‎), the God Who Sees (Genesis 16:13). He knows both who His people are and where they are at any given time. He can use us in place or even lead us into encounters with each other. Last week, God put me into a situation with a homeless man that left me in tears with the implications. The God of the Universe knows those who are His and those who are not. And every person on earth is either one or the other.

“For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

Acts 18:10

God Sends The Willing

It started last week on my way to work in the morning. I had the thought that I might like to go to the dollar store near my school to see if there were any new snacks I could use for my Sunday morning ministry. Lately, I have been extra sensitive about using my time exactly the way God intends, so I sent a quick prayer. “God, if you want me to go to the dollar store, please let me know after school.” After the bell rang, I spent several minutes in my classroom working, but then the thought came again that I should go to the dollar store. So I went. 

On Alert for My Mission

When I got to the store, I immediately noticed the homeless man just outside the door. He was a white guy in his early twenties with missing teeth in the front. He had all his bags with him and was walking into the store. But each time he would take a few steps forward, he would stop and take a step back to rock back and forth on his other foot a few times. It seemed like he was counting steps like people do who have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Anyway, he set his bags down at the front, and I lost him for a few minutes as I went to check the snack aisles.

Pretty soon I heard the loudspeaker come to life, “Security check on all aisles!” It occurred to me that employees were watching him pretty closely. Then I saw/smelled one of the employees going up and down the aisles with Lysol to counteract the smell of sweat that the man trailed wherever he went. There were several girls who worked there who seemed anxious and alert. As I made my way to the far side of the store, I was praying, “God, please show me what you want me to do.” I caught sight of the man again and realized that he wasn’t wearing a mask. I figured that besides his appearance and smell, this was another reason the employees were reacting so strongly to him. 

God’s Hands and Feet

I picked up a couple packs of disposable masks, finished the rest of my shopping, and went to check out. By the time I was done at the register, the homeless man was also in line a few people behind me. I walked back to where he was and looked at his intended purchase, amazed. After all his walking through the aisles, he had only one thing he was planning to buy: a cross. He must have picked it up from a nearby Easter display. 

Approaching him with the masks, I told him to keep them in case he needed them. I also mentioned that others feel more comfortable when everyone wears one. Then I asked him if there was anything I could buy for him. He said, “Could you buy food?” I grabbed a cart and told him to get whatever he wanted and I would pay. He immediately put on a mask and put the others into his bag. Then he disappeared back into the store. 

A Message for the Man

I decided to go ahead and put my bags in the car. When I returned, I waited only a few minutes before he was back. The man’s purchases (including the cross) came to just over $16. He grabbed the bags, and I reached into my purse and pulled out a tract with Bible references on it (for when you’re worried, lonely, fearful, etc.) and my church’s name and number on the back. I asked him if he had a Bible, and he said he did.

“What’s your name?” I asked him. He said, “Aaron.” I told him my name and that I believed God sent me there that day to help him. Then I looked at him straight in his eyes and said, “God is watching out for you. I think it’s important for you to know that.” I told him I would pray for him and left the store.

God Knows Who/Where His People Are

On the way home, it hit me. That young man, whatever his issues, belongs to God. The cross he was buying with the little money he had was a symbol of his hope. My message might just have been a confirmation that his prayers had been heard. Those people in the store, on the other hand, had turned their noses up at him (literally). They assumed the worst about him because of his physical appearance and sprayed an air freshener to remove the evidence of his hardship. They didn’t see him as a person who deserved compassion. But God saw him.

Tears sprang to my eyes. But they weren’t for the homeless man who had so many earthly needs. No, my tears were for those people in the store who had looked down at one of God’s own with contempt. Tears for the employees who had no idea the spiritual scene that had played out in the store just then. I thought of their moment before God one day when they would answer for their actions and attitudes. Matthew 25:40 says, “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

Are You One Of God’s People in the City?

“For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

Acts 18:10

In Acts 18:10, God told Apostle Paul the reasons he shouldn’t be afraid to preach the gospel in Corinth. He told him He was with him, and no one would hurt him because He had many of His own people available to help at any given time. Now as then, God’s people hear His voice. His Spirit leads them and guides them, and He can tell them where to go and what to do when they get there. 

Every person on earth either belongs to God or belongs to the enemy; there is no in-between. If you belong to God, you are one of His people in the city, just like in Acts 18:10. Ask Him to use you at your job, the stores you frequent, or even the places you visit only once in a while. Listen for His voice and watch for ways you can be His hands and feet. Now as then, God is still asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Just like in Isaiah 6:8, tell Him, “Here am I. Send me!”

Want more good questions? Try Where Do You Labor in the Harvest of Souls?  Or, try The Desires of the Heart: What’s Your One Thing? Please sign up to receive my blog in your email inbox. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.

5 thoughts on “Acts 18:10: God Sees His “People in the City””

  1. Very touching. God is no respecter of persons. Seems your timing was in perfect alignment with his spiritual hunger Angela.

    Just tonight had a chance encounter with a stranger on a grocery store parking lot who needed a jump start. It ended an hour later after talking about spiritual matters & Jesus.

    Nothing in life is coincidental. Blessings!

  2. I love your heart for the Lord and your willingness to be His hands and feet. I also appreciate you sharing with others how God works in your life, it is good encouragement in my own walk with our Lord.

    1. Thank you so much! Sometimes I wonder how people see my stories. (Am I just an annoying over-sharer? Lol!) I just try to listen for His leading and write what He wants me to write. I so desperately want to please Him and be used by Him. One day, we will see as He sees and know the part we played in His story. Today, God used you to encourage me!💕

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