Text: Acts 14:23-28
Theme: Takes a lot to complete something–many action verbs involved
Key verses: “Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Then they traveled back…They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Attalia. Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. And they stayed there with the believers for a long time” (v. 23-28).
What God said to me: Dwayne, you see how discouraging ministry can be. You see how guys are jumping ship and leaving ministry right and left. Some of your closest friends and associates are struggling with depression, discouragement and doubt. You know high quality men and women who are working secular jobs now because they didn’t want to handle the pressures of ministry anymore or because they saw greener pasture outside of church vocation. The thing is, I warned you it would be hard. I told you over and over both personally and through my servants in the Bible that in the world you will have tribulations. You will have doubts. In fact, the ones you least expect to turn on you and let you down are often the very people who do. Paul and Barnabas completed their mission. They finished it. People now days have a real struggle with finishing what they start–especially when things get hard. Many tend to drop and run. They make a b-line for the door and quit before they finish. No matter what you are going through, Dwayne, I promise it’s not as hard on you as it was on Paul and Barnabas on this missionary journey. Think about it: They were conspired against, despised by Jewish leaders, and stoned and left for dead. They were ridiculed in almost every place they went. And yet, they completed their journey. They finished their mission. Go and do likewise. Don’t quit. Don’t ever quit. Remember, I hold victory in store for the upright. I am a shield to those whose walk is blameless. Now, notice these important action verbs that are all associated with completing their work.
Appointed: Appointing others to carry on the ministry you start is part of completing your work
Turned: You must be willing to turn the ministry over to others and trust them into my care
Traveled: P&B did a ton of traveling to accomplish their mission. So must you, no matter how dangerous, uncomfortable and inconvenient it might be
Preached: Boldly, unashamedly sharing my Word is a necessary part of completing your mission
Returned: At some point every missionary gets to go home. Whether your physical home or heavenly one, you will come home. This is a joyful part of the work and something to look forward to.
Entrusted: Others–your family, friends, supporters–must also entrust you into my care and let you go and do the mission to which I’ve called you.
Completed: Those who sent them saw and confirmed first hand that they did in fact finish their mission.
Called: Calling plays a huge part in your mission. In this context they called the church together to greet them and hear their report. Another calling deeply embedded in a mission is my calling on your life to go.
Reported: Never shy away from sharing stories and pictures that celebrate my faithfulness and the fruit of your journeys and labor. And don’t rush. Notice they reported “everything” I had done through them.
Opened: They were careful to give me glory and credit for opening a door to the Gentiles. Rather than dwell on their obstacles and persecutions, they focused on the bigger purpose of their mission and the joyful outcome.
Stayed: Be grateful for the times I design for you to stay put once you return from a missionary journey. You need those times to recoup, recalibrate and invest in your own family and those you personally oversee and mentor.
What I said to God: Wow, Lord, You really laid this on thick. I’m still trying to grasp all You have shown me through this passage. Thank You for speaking so clearly through Your Word. May I never quit. May I rely on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive me when I complain or fear or doubt. It’s arrogant on my part to assume this mission is mine to accomplish. It’s Your mission. The people we minister to are Your field and Your creation whom You dearly love. My job is to remain obedient and trust You for the provisions to go and serve. You will help us finish our mission. Only You can walk with us, never leaving us nor forsaking us. Praise Your name!