Reading for Wednesday, April 25: Acts 14
You can’t help but appreciate the risks Paul and Barnabas are willing to take for the sake of the Gospel. At every turn, people are opposing them, stirring up the crowds against them, attempting to stone them, etc. Even in the moments when the crowd wants to worship them — as in Lystra — it’s not long before the tables have turned and their running them out of town or leaving them for dead. But the bold character of these leaders is a powerful example for us to follow. I’m afraid that too often we prefer safety and security over risk and vulnerability. How often do I pray for safety and blessing? How often do I pray for courage to boldly confront sin? How often do I pray for a spirit of proclamation?
In our culture, I think many of us have bought into this idea of a privatized faith. But New Testament faith is boldly public: in the market place, in the synagogues, on street corners and in homes…the Gospel is preached in its fullness in every nook and cranny. The disciples seem animated by this unshakeable belief: “The grave couldn’t hold him! Therefore, I will fear no evil! Because my Jesus has promised victory!” So whether they’re being thrown in jail, persecuted by religious leaders, or stoned and left for dead by the bloodthirsty crowds, these disciples just continue to preach this message. It’s all because He lives. That’s the kind of faith I want to have. Don’t you?
“We bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.” (v15) This is the Good News: that the Living God has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ, the embodiment of life and love and truth.
Paul and Barnabas cap their missionary journey by appointing elders in the churches (v23), an important detail. God has always called godly men to shepherd His people. And this principle continues to the present day. Take a moment today and give thanks for your church’s godly shepherds and their wives. They give of themselves so freely, so deeply. In so doing, they follow the example of the Good Shepherd.