We continued this past week with the study, Power for the World: Book 2, The Jesus, Light of Nations Series . The experiences of our friends, Paul and Barnabas, brought some rich lessons:
- Spiritual jealousy is destructive to us all. “Jealousy” was roused because salvation was being offered to the Gentiles as well. The Jews were upset upon seeing the crowdsÂ desirous of Paul’s message (see Acts 13:43). Paul reminded them they had rejected Christ and the time had now come to offer it to the Gentiles. Jealousy – spiritual jealousy. It enters our lives in the subtlest of ways .. perhaps when we have worked hard and long and someone comes in and gets the recognition … when we are resentful someone gains a position we longed for … when we are not the favored ones … God calls us each to be a light in this dark world. “I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth” (Acts 13:47, NLT). May we each do our part, be it a small ray or a large beam of light. May we each not strive with another for position or recognition. May we examine our hearts, humbling ourselves before God, so that we “bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth” – even to our little corners of our communities.
- We are not responsible for the outcome. Truth is not always easily accepted. Paul and Barnabas completed the task they were given by preaching the Good News. When the time had come for them to leave, they left with joy and were filled with the Holy Spirit. We are responsible to present the message, or do what it is God has asked, and leave the results or outcome in His hands. “So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium” (Acts 13:51, NLT).
- The pains, challenges, and hardship we face can produce fruit, not only in our lives, but in the lives of those around us. Paul and Barnabas continued to preach despite the opposition the encountered. Paul – never gave up on the Jews, even though he included the Gentiles. They did not let opposition cause them to back down or be silenced. Rather it turned them into bolder witnesses. Difficulties can be discouraging, Amen? Let’s just say that straightforwardly. When we are dealing with long term illness, infertility, depression, wayward children, job searches, aging parents – we can get worn down or even feel like giving up. May we remember in the midst of it all,Â we are growing and developing strength of character – endurance.
- Even when in a crowd, we must notice the one.Â In Acts 14:8-18, we find Paul speaking to the crowd, yet he noticed a lame man listening intently. Realizing the man had the faith to be healed, Paul told him to stand up and walk. And he did. Paul was speaking to the crowd, but was aware of the one listening and to his need. We can often glaze over, tune out,Â in conversations. Our minds wander. We need to be present in conversations, seeing past what is in front of us, so that we are able to meet others in their place of need.Â
- In the middle of hard days, we must encourage one another. In Acts 14:19-23, we find Paul – stoned, dragged out of town, and left for dead. Yet he gets back up and continues to preach. Can we imagine the strength and courage the Lord gave him? Paul strengthened the believers, encouraged them to continue in their faith, and reminded them of the hardships and suffering encountered in this life. We have so become a people who want the easy and comfortable way of the gospel. Yet often we are told in Scriptures we will have difficulties. May we remember that no matter what we face, we never face it alone. God is always with us. Let’s encourage one another during the hard days so we all grow in our faith.
May we each find strength and courage so we learn from one another,
encourage one another,
and grow in our faith.Â
Today I am joining … Inspire Me Monday .