Acts 14:21-28: Keeping on keeping on.
“21 They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 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. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders[a] for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 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. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.”NIV UK .
‘The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success’ David Sarnoff.
‘Paul and Barnabas had the courage to retrace their steps so they could help and encourage the new Christians! And when they returned home, they told the church what the Lord had done, not what they had suffered. Paul and Barnabas put Christ first, others second, and themselves last’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.717.
It is striking that they returned home via the very places where they had faced such persecution; but they were more concerned for the welfare of the churches than they were for their own safety and comfort. (Notice, by the way, that the appointment of elders is a serious matter, to be undertaken prayerfully and not lightly: verse 23, compare with 13:3).
What you say carries more clout when your hearers know that you live the message (22). Paul and Barnabas didn’t dilute the sermon to taste; didn’t promise the new Christians an easy ride. They spelled it out that there would be blood, sweat and tears, and their own lives demonstrated courage, fortitude and perseverance in the face of great danger. Their experiences were visual aids for the message they were bringing.
Safely back in Antioch, they gave testimony to what God had done. In verse 11 we read about ‘’what Paul had done’’, but to the gathered congregation in Antioch they ‘’reported all that God had done through them…’’ (27). We are God’s co-workers. We get to be involved in this exciting dangerous adventure, but let’s make sure God gets all the glory.
(Compare verses 27b with Colossians 4:3 and 1 Corinthians 15:8,9).
PRAYER: Lord God, may it be obvious that you are at work through me, and I pray that you will receive all the honour. It is your due. But I do ask that you will work through my life, for you are able to do far more than I could ever ask or imagine.