Lord, give us courage!
Scripture: Job 9-10, Acts 13-14
These two chapters in Acts tell the story of the first missionary journey: Paul and Barnabas travel from Antioch to Cyprus then swing through what is now the center of modern Turkey. At each stop, they meet significant resistance, ranging from argument and contradiction to bodily harm and threat of death. They were driven out of Psidian Antioch, had to flee for their lives from Iconium, and were stoned in Lystra. Then what?
Acts 14:21-22 “They returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’”
They returned! They went back to every place they had made disciples and planted churches, every place that had driven them out and threatened to kill them. They returned to encourage the new believers, appoint pastors and commend them to God. Incredible courage!
Courage! These men exhibited remarkable courage, first in going, then in returning!
It took a great deal of courage to go in the first place. They were leading a revival in Antioch, one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. It would have been easy to stay, tough to go. Travel was dangerous, both by land and sea, and very difficult. And I’m sure they knew that their message would not be welcomed by some, but vigorously resisted. Not only was the travel dangerous, the preaching was more so! But they went.
However, as courageous as the going was, the return was even more! They went back to the cities where they had been persecuted and beaten, where people had tried to kill them. They knew that if they were caught, they were dead. They went anyway, because they wanted to establish the young believers and churches. They risked their lives for these new converts and churches.
God’s kingdom has always been advanced by the brave and the bold, not by the timid and frightened. Following Jesus requires courage.
Prayer: Lord, give me this kind of courage! And not just me…Your work needs millions of us who are willing to risk to do Your bidding. Give us courage!