Acts 13: 26 “Finally they returned to by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun and where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported about their trip, telling all that God had done and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too.”
What an incredible journey Paul and Barnabas have been on in this their first missionary journey. They’d begun in Antioch of Syria, moved through Asia Minor visiting Iconium, Lystra, Derbe and Antioch of Pisidia and back where they started in Antioch of Syria. In some instances, they’ve been received with joy and they made many disciples (14:21) and in other situations, they were attacked and stoned (14:5, 19). They were given power by God to ‘do miraculous signs and wonders (14:3, 9-10)’, which demonstrated that something greater than their own efforts were at work. As they travelled ‘preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord’ (14:3), Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in every church and prayed for them with fasting, turning them over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had come to trust (14:23). The missionary zeal displayed by Paul and Barnabas was very fruitful and was in direct keeping with the commission that Jesus had given in Matt 28:18-20. This is Acts 1:8 unfolding – “but when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”.
What a joy it is for me to be reading the Book of Acts chapter by chapter and holding the Gospel up as a lens to look through, against the vision and values of our Church at Newlife. One of the Building Blocks of our Church is to plant other Churches, just as Paul and Barnabas are doing in this chapter. We are in the prayerful and strategic process of doing that now as Mike and Sarah are calling their ‘Barnabas’s and other leaders’ to consider joining them in planting Newlife Brisbane later this year. Another of our Values is to be a church that is Developing Leaders/Making Disciples. Paul and Barnabas did this in every community where the Lord sent them to preach the Good News – “in Derbe and making many disciples” (14:21). Brenden and Newlife College are doing this as more and more people respond to the opportunity to study the Bible and develop their understanding about theology and all that impacts our time, place and culture with regards to our faith and the world we live in. Our Small Groups are also the little power pockets where ‘Discipleship and Disciple making’ should be occurring. I love being in two Small Groups that regularly keep me accountable and growing in my faith. Paul and Barnabas were in this together. That’s such a wonderful example of the necessity of doing ministry together, rather than being a ‘lone ranger’. We’re all part of the Body of Christ …. I guess that’s why we are called ‘Christians’ (little christs)
Heavenly Father, through the power of your Holy Spirit, give us courage to be your witnesses in Jerusalem (in our personal settings/families and as a Church on the Gold Coast), in Judea (in our broader communities of work/social and political settings and as a Church in Brisbane/Qld), in Samaria (in every area of influence that we have personally and as a Christian Church in Australia and particularly within in the Uniting Church as we approach the upcoming Assembly in July) and to the ends of the earth (in everything and every endeavour that you call me to do and for our church as we support our Mission Partners around the world. In Jesus name, AMEN