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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Acts 14 : 1-28

‘And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned …..strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”’ -Acts 14:21-22

For every child of God, there is a divine call; not just to know Him and fellowship with Him, but also to be ambassadors of Christ – to be faithful in sharing the “Good News” with those around us. As we mediate from Acts 14 on Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey, let us understand some key aspects of being obedient and faithful to the heavenly mandate: 

Point people to the Lord: Paul and Barnabas focused on pointing people to the living God. Wherever the gospel was preached in truth, the Lord confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. (Vs 3), and the apostles gave God the glory. At the healing of the lame man in Lystra, when the people mistook them for Greek gods and wanted to offer sacrifices to them, they did not allow themselves to be puffed up in pride but rather drew their attention to the ‘living God’. When God uses us for His kingdom work, our priority should be to humbly point others to Christ and salvation, rather than focus on the ‘gifts’ and glorify the ‘self.’

Persistence in sharing: The disciples persisted in sharing the gospel message despite the opposition they faced. Each time they were met with rejection, they reasoned and persisted in sharing Christ to the Gentiles. Wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, some receive in faith while others oppose it.  The enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Where the gospel is preached in power, Satan stirs up conflict and opposition. When we face hostility, it should not deter and discourage us, but in the strength of the Holy Spirit, we need to be steadfast in reaching the unsaved with great concern for lost souls. 

Perseverance in suffering: For most of us, it is hard to comprehend the persecution that the early Christians faced. But amid abuse, imprisonment, threat to their lives, the disciples persevered and chose to be obedient to the divine call. Despite their suffering, they strengthened the disciples to persevere in tribulations. Paul exhorts us that our suffering has a purpose and a reward. ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen…’  (2 Cor. 4:17-18) Can we be joyful in hardships and encourage those around us to persevere in faith? This should be our attitude -"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

Preparing the Church: Paul and Barnabas showed a model of godly leadership as they appointed elders in every church, having prayed with fasting, committing them to the Lord. (Vs.23) As evangelization resulted in discipleship, the apostles taught them the word of God and appointed elders to guide and mentor the new believers, thus organizing and building the early church. The Church grows under Spirit-led leadership. Our focus should not just be on evangelization but ensuring that new believers are discipled under spiritual leaders who can build them up. 

The apostles and the early church had captured the vision of the Great Commission and pressed on with the Kingdom work.  Allow our hearts to capture this vision and be obedient to the divine call! God will open for us effectual doors to the unsaved when we are diligent and faithful in His service. 

Our Divine Call:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 

teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded

you; and lo, I am with you always, even to

the end of the age.” Amen.

(Matthew 28:19-20)

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