Seasons of GriefAre you going through a season of grief where you are struggling to grieve?
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They strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to
continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many
hardships to enter the kingdom of God (v.22).
In February of 2011, Andrew Wilson, an Australian
fisherman was fishing off the coast of New South
Wales when he was thrown from his boat by a large
wave. Without a life jacket, but filled with adrenaline and
tenacity, Wilson braved the shark-infested waters and
simply kept swimming. “I wasn’t going to stop, so I just
Wilson survived the ordeal with minor injuries. One
local rescuer opined: “Lucky he was a strong swimmer.”
The same could not be said for the disciples in Lystra,
Antioch, and Iconium; in a way they were new swimmers
and needed mentors—Paul and Barnabas—to strengthen
and encourage them to keep going.
After experiencing a near-death stoning in Lystra at
the hands of a violent mob (incited by Jews from Antioch
and Iconium) and preaching the gospel in Derbe, Paul
did the unexpected. He and Barnabas returned to Lystra,
Iconium, and Antioch—the very cities where their lives
had been in danger!
Why would they return to those cities of potential
harm? They could have taken a less arduous route and
kept traveling southeast and visited Paul’s home in Tarsus.
But Paul and Barnabas weren’t thinking of themselves;
they were concerned about strengthening some “new
believers” to keep going and not give up. They wanted
to make sure the new disciples were spiritually healthy
and had solid spiritual leadership.
We too have a responsibility to new or inexperienced believers in Jesus. By the
power of the Holy Spirit, let’s strengthen their souls, help them to depend on God
in the face of pain, and to keep going in the midst of the dangerous waters of
uncertainty, trial, and suffering. And let’s remind them that endurance is a hallmark
of true Christian faith and it brings spiritual rewards.
How does your church strengthen and encourage new
believers? What younger Christian will you strengthen and
encourage this week? How?
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- Genuine Love - How have you experienced the reality of God’s love?...read more
- Straight Up - Is there a current situation in your life where you’ve been less than honest?...read more
- He Saw Something - Have you seen something so true that you would be willing to live or die for it?...read more
- Higher Law, Higher Love - What choice of conscience faces you today?...read more
- Stay or Run Away - How might God want you to display His glory in your life?...read more
- Jealousy and Generosity - To help His followers understand what the kingdom of heaven is like and the dangers of comparison obsession, Jesus told a parable about a landowner who hired workers to tend his vineyard....read more
- On the Fringe - Who sits alone at church that you can befriend?...read more
- Taming Anger - Think back to a time when you lashed out in anger, or when someone lashed out at you....read more
- Full of Joy - How can you tap into God’s joy more fully?...read more
- Mistaken vs. Hard Hearts - How have you experienced a hard heart toward God in your relationship with Him?...read more
- The Narrow Door - How can salvation be a free gift simply received and yet still require our response?...read more
- Last Dance - How can you focus on thoughts that are lovely and admirable today?...read more