Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Acts 14:19-28

As you read this I will be on a mission trip with 41 other people to Belize (please pray for us). Today's reading is about Paul and Barnabas' mission trip to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. I hope our mission trip isn't as filled with the troubles that Paul and Barnabas faced, but today's reading has several messages for us.

Only days after the people in Lystra had thought Paul and Barnabas were gods, they stoned Paul and left him for dead. People are fickle, they follow fads (do you remember hula hoops and bell bottoms - I am showing my age). When many people approve of us and tell us we did a good job, we feel good. However, we should never let the opinion of the majority cloud our thinking or affect our decisions. Today's reading provides us a clear message that we should not live our lives to please the crowd. We are called to live a life that Jesus demonstrated for us and to be true to that teaching. Fads will come and go, popular opinion will change, but the teaching of Jesus does not change, and neither should we.

Another message in today's reading is how we should support each other. In the middle of today's reading we see Paul and Barnabas return to visit believers in all the cities where they had recently been threatened and physically attacked. These Christians needed encouragement in their time of suffering. Paul and Barnabas tell them, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God". I feel Paul and Barnabas were talking about themselves and us. No matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable the task may seem, we must support each other and other believers who need our encouragement.

From Paul and Barnabas' perspective, was this mission trip worth it? All those miles, all the time away from home? The persecution. The stoning. The humiliation. I am confident they felt it was worth it. I know God thinks it is worth it. I hope we feel it would be worth it.

Wishing you the best in your walk with Christ,
Richard Leach

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