Second Time Around
Heavenly Father, thank You for those who have helped my faith to grow. Grow in me even more today, I pray.
Read Acts 14:21-28
 They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,  strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.  Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.  After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia,  and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.  From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.  On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.  And they stayed there a long time with the disciples. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow did they strengthen and encourage the churches?
Have you been mentored by an older Christian? If so, bear this in mind as you ponder Paul and Barnabas’ return to places where they have planted churches. For now, Paul’s enemies seem to have given up. Maybe after his stoning in Lystra (19) they assumed Paul was dead. The only mention of opposition in these verses is of Paul and Barnabas urging the believers to be ready to suffer as a community (22). The text suggests that they want these new believers to remain faithful in their relationship with God. They also identify the leaders in each place, preparing and commissioning them for the task (23). On arriving at Antioch, their sending church, they give a full report. Can you imagine the excitement when they reveal the new opportunities to reach Gentiles (27)? I’d love to have been there! Church leaders face many challenges: encouraging individual faith; preparing people for tough times, but also motivating them to faithfully play their part in the life of the community; inspiring excitement at the opportunities for sharing faith in Christ. Unless God’s power is at work in them, they will fail.
How do you see God’s power at work in your church? How would you pray for more of it?
Mighty Lord, may Your great power enable the leaders of my church to face their many challenges faithfully.
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