A Pattern

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Daily Reading: Today’s bible reading is Acts 14

One thing I love about the book of Acts is that it presents life in the early church with all its pain and struggles. In Acts 14 we see a pattern that may be helpful as we interpret our own experiences as Christians.

Watch for this pattern Paul and Barnabas’s missionary journey: Truth, Division, Persecution, Fruit, and Rest.

Truth

Our work always begins with proclamation of the truth. The good news is news. In verses 1,9, 15-17, 21-22, and 25-27 we see the word being proclaimed or truth being spoken in some way. We are those who bring good news, therefore we must open our mouths with the truth. Perhaps that is in front of a crowd, perhaps it is with a coworker or friend at school. God puts each of us in a unique place to be lights for the gospel; we must be faithful to proclaim to good news of Jesus.

Division

 When truth is proclaimed, it causes division. This doesn’t mean we should be divisive in the way we share the truth. In fact, I believe scripture is clear we should seek to be loving and persuasive. In 1 Corinthians Paul says, “we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  (1 Cor 1:23-24 ESV)

There will always be those who stumble over Jesus. Our job is to keep proclaiming him. There are those who are called out of darkness. To them, the message of the cross is the very power of God.

Persecution 

It comes in various forms, but “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim3:12 ESV) We should not be surprised when the world who loves the darkness hates the light (Jn. 3:19). Our job, like Paul and Barnabas, is to be faithful and gracious towards those who persecute us.

Fruit

 In every place the missionaries go, there is fruit. The prophet Isaiah told us that God’s words never return without accomplishing their purpose (Is. 55:11). We may not always see it, but God’s word is powerful; it does the work he intends it to do.

Rest 

Perhaps this just stands out to me because I’m taking the week off, but in verses 27 and 28 we see one of the greatest joys of serving a sovereign God, rest.

“And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. [28] And they remained no little time with the disciples.” (Acts 14:27-28 ESV)

They go home, tell their church all the wonderful things God did and the struggles they had along the way, and they “remain no little time.” Even the great Paul and Barnabas needed to spend some time resting and being encouraged.

We should purpose to do the first and last part of this pattern. We should proclaim truth and rest. We shouldn’t be surmised when the three middle parts happen. There will be division, there will be persecution, but praise God, there will be fruit!

Grace & Peace.

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