Text: Acts 14:19-22
Theme: We shouldn’t avoid hardships at the cost of sharing the Gospel.
Key verses: “The same thing happened in Iconium…While they were at Lystra…some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” (v. 1, 8, 21, 22).
What God said to me: Dwayne, you just think you know hardship. Yes, you’ve been through some difficult times emotionally. You’ve been mentally persecuted by others because of your stand for me. But compared to what the New Testament saints went through, your experiences are a walk in the park. What I want you to see here is that Paul didn’t shrink from persecution. He was physically beaten and left for dead in Lystra. In Iconium, the city he and Barnabas visited before Lystra, Jews plotted against him to stone him. And prior to that city, Jews stirred up hatred and doubt in Antioch of Pisidia over their teachings. Yet, notice that Paul and Barnabas returned to all 3 cities–not just one of them, mind you, and not the best 2 out of 3. They went back to all the cities that had shown such anger and hatred toward them before. Do you think they hesitated or were concerned to go back? Maybe, but my Word records nothing of that sort. What you know is what you need to know: They did not allow anything–not even their personal safety and comfort–to stand in their way of sharing the Gospel and making disciples. Now consider this question: What would hinder you from going where the needs are? What would cause you to stay home rather than go forward in my faith and presence? Paul and Barnabas had been sent out by the Holy Spirit. They were on a divine mission, my mission. They had a job to do, and they did it–even when it meant putting their lives in danger. I have opened many doors for you in many places in the world. I will continue to give you health and financial provisions to go, but you must not shrink back. You must go forward in full faith and obedience to my command. You must go and make disciples of all the nations. Don’t be concerned about what you will eat or how you will cover the flights. Trust me on those things. Just find a way to go.
What I said to God: Thank You, Lord, for speaking clearly to my heart today. I am sorry when I allow fear and worry to hinder me from moving forward and making plans to go into all the world. You will provide as we move out in faith and in simple obedience. Where do you want us and me to be next year? Please don’t stop blessing NLWI financially and with more open doors for the Gospel. Send us more volunteers–laborers in the fields to help us. And please empower me to walk humbly and boldly with my God. I pray that over my family and our NLW staff as well.