Second Time Around!
Gracious Father, You give mercy and acceptance, love and forgiveness in an unending, undiminishing supply. What a great God You are!
Read Acts 14:21-28
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“One of the joys of missionary work is to see how …the Spirit of God continues to use ordinary people to accomplish his purpose of blessing all humankind through them” (Samuel Escobar).
Years ago I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in the world you can walk up. By the end, a combination of the altitude and exhaustion meant I only just made it as I forced myself to scramble to the top. When I finally got there, I found a book in which you could sign your name and put some appropriate comment. My sense of triumph was very much muted and I just wrote, “Never again!” I was determined not to be beaten by the mountain, but now that I knew what it was like, the thought of attempting it again was far worse.
“Then they returned to Lystra” (21). Astonishingly the apostle does attempt it all again, even though he knows it nearly cost him his life the first time. He lived what he preached, and they got the message: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said (22).
What have been the hardships for you on the journey into the kingdom? Luke wouldn’t want us to dismiss that as a rhetorical question but to regard it as a real matter of discipleship. The Christian who heads back to a hostile home or workplace or school knows something of this hardship. Every day he or she heads back to discouragement and hostility. The disciple in a country that for religious or ideological reasons is hostile to the Christian faith knows it. Every day she or he lives with the fear in the back of their mind of what might be done to them. Yet the apostle not only lived in these places, he preached, encouraged appointed elders, and built up the local church there. It needed that boldness for them to be able to report on the “work they had now completed” (26).
What hardships have you had to face for the Gospel? Is there a place you should return to as a witness to your faith?
Lord, I have been challenged as I have read of the missionary endeavors of Paul and Barnabas. Renew my commitment to the support of world evangelization.
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