Aim: A relationship with Christ requires commitment. Commitment means not quitting when things get hard.
Introduction: Have you ever ridden on a roller coaster? When you decide to do it, you step into the car, snap the safety belt and the train leaves the station. You are committed all the way through, there isn’t anywhere to get off or turn back. When Paul and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit in Antioch to go on this mission trip, they prayed about it, the church prayed and fasted, they knew this is what they were supposed to do. They got onboard and strapped in. No matter the ups and downs, no matter how scary, they were going all the way. That’s commitment.
Last week we saw Paul and Barnabas shaking the dust from their feet as they left Pisidian Antioch, wanting to leave the negative things behind them. This week we see that the negative people followed them anyway, but some truly amazing things happen in spite of the opposition.
1st Division: Acts 14: 1-7 Paul and Barnabas speak effectively and boldly and many believe, but division occurs.
Principle: The power of the spirit raises the notice of the opposition
Illustration: Picture this: In a football game, a player is fumbling the ball, missing catches, doing bad passes or hand-offs and you are the coach of the other team. How many of your players are you going to devote to covering this person? Probably none. It is like they are on your team already. But what about the player who is doing everything well and scoring lots of points for their team. You might double or even triple team that player. We see this with Paul and Barnabas, but we also see it with our christian leaders today. When you are actively spreading the word and being bold and effective, evil powers will be sent to put pressure on you, to get in your way and to try to prevent you from winning. Thankfully, God has the master game plan!
Application: Are you asking for the ball? Are you practicing to be a better player on God’s team? Would satan worry about getting in your way?
2nd Division: Acts 14: 8-18 Paul and Barnabas show the power and majesty of the Creator, but the people of Lystra give credit to the created.
Principle: Only those who truly listen receive the miracle of faith
Illustration: When my wife was a child her parents saved up for months to buy her and her sister a kitchen set for Christmas. After opening the gift, the 2 kids spent much of the rest of the day playing with the box, ignoring the actual gift. This is how people can be. The healing of the lame man was only the outer wrapping of the actual healing that was occurring in his soul. The ability to walk on this earth was very short compared to his ability to walk the streets of heaven.
Application: Where are you being blinded by the wrappings instead focusing on the real gift? Where do you need to listen first so that you may be blessed?
3rd Division: Acts 14: 19-28 The Jews arrive, Paul is stoned, Paul is revived and continues in strength
Illustration: Life is full of peeks, valleys and plains. When we are a committed christian we will face opposition and persecution, and while we may not be stronger and we may be afraid and beaten down to our very last breath, God is stronger. God doesn’t ask us to go on alone. He doesn’t promise a smooth path, just the opposite, but he does promise to yolk us together with Him and with others. Often we gain our greatest encouragement and strength from those we teach. This is what Paul and Barnabas experienced as they finished their roller coaster ride back to its starting point in Antioch.
Application: Are you committed? Do you desire a flat trail – if so that might only be achieved once you flatline? Who are you encouraging and teaching so that you might be strengthened?
Conclusion: Lynn Anderson may have summed it up best – “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there’s got to be a little rain sometimes.”