God spoke to the church at Antioch and told them, “Set apart for Me Barnabus and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) So off they went on their mission trip.
~ In Paphos, “Elymas the sorcerer opposed them…” (13:8)
~ At Pisidian Antioch, they were asked to preach two weeks in a row, and drew quite a large crowd. “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.”, (13:15) and “stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.” (13:50)
~ At Iconium, “…the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers” (14:2), and plotted to stone them. (14:5)
~ In Lystra, they stoned Paul and left him for dead. (14:19)
Finally, they returned to Antioch “where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.“ (15:26)
Imagine returning from such a trip! What would you tell people?
Here is what Paul and Barnabus told the church that had sent them out:
“On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them, and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (15:27) They would have reported that…
~ In Paphos, “When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.” (13:12)
~ At Pisidian Antioch, “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” (13:48)
~ At Iconium, “There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.” (14:1)
~ In Lystra, they encountered a man who had been crippled his whole life, who listened to Paul speaking. Paul “saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.” (14:9-10)
~ In Derbe, “They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples.” (14:21)
There are two truths that I walk away with from God’s word today.
- The works of God far outweigh the works of men.
When Paul and Barnabus returned to Antioch, they told the church all that God had done. My guess is that they may have also talked about what men had done to them, but what is noted by Luke (the writer of Acts) is that they spoke of God.
It comes down to a very simple thought for me. Will I talk more about what man is doing, or what God is doing? Is my report more about what is happening to me, or is it about what I see of God?
- Regardless of opposition, God is always at work.
My calling is not to stop the opposition, it is to continue with the mission. Whatever the enemy is doing through men, God is doing more through His Spirit.
So, do I allow opposition to discourage me, confuse me or even stop me? Or will I see opposition as part of the calling, and continue on, knowing that whatever He calls me to do, I can complete, because He is at work in far greater measure than the opposition?
The answers I give will depend on what weighs more in my heart and mind. What happens to me, or what happens through me. The opposition, or the work of God.