Acts Devotionals

Fruits of the Journey

Facebook has a section called “Marketplace”. I have been scrolling through what’s on offer as we need a few items. I found a bookcase that fits perfectly in a gap in our room for $25, which I collected. A successful trip … and now we have a bookcase. To prevent going downstairs to warm coffee and to make coffee, we’re looking for a small microwave, kettle and small kitchen cabinet to put these items on. I saw a small microwave on Facebook Marketplace for $15. This would be a good buy as it looked in great shape and was advertised as almost new. The seller gave me a location and once there I could not get hold of the seller for her address. We travelled almost 8 miles to the location … waited 45 minutes without a response and returned home. Once back at home I received an address. It was a wasted journey.

As we read Acts we see that Paul and Barnabas’ journeys were successful … for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus and His Kingdom. Our next text shows they had completed their first missionary journey after appointing elders for the Churches at Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. They were now returning to their sending Church, to report how God worked the Gospel through their ministry.

Ac 14:24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 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. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

1) The missionaries return journey. They travelled through Pisidia in modern, southern Turkey … known then as the Galatian Province. They then entered the Province of Pamphylia, reaching Perga where they preached the Word of God. This is where John Mark had left them to return to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Nothing is said about the response to their preaching … but they preached the Gospel without hindrance. From there they travelled to Attalia which is modern Antalya. Attalia was founded by Attalus II, king of Pergamum around 158 BC. The city was the principal seaport of Pamphylia. From here they sailed to Antioch of Syria … destined for their sending Church (Acts 12:25-13:3). This Church at Antioch commissioned Paul and Barnabas as missionaries, prayed for them and sent them to evangelize. Their mission tour now completed, they needed to return to “home base”.

2) The missionaries report back.

Ac 14:27 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.

They did not waste time once they arrived:

Ac 14:27 On arriving there

No time for holidays and relaxation. One of the things our modern Church needs to learn is urgency! Due to the lack of urgency for the Gospel, the Church in general is so relaxed, as if there is no pressure to reach the lost. Maybe the modern Church no longer believes in hell and that there are millions of lost souls heading towards eternal ruin.

(1) They gathered the Church. It was likely a year since they left on their missionary journey and the Church was longing for news. They commissioned them, prayed for them and most likely supported them financially. It is a healthy practice to have the missionaries supported come to the sending Churches when they are on furlough to meet those who pray for them and support them financially. When missionaries don’t remain in contact with their sending and supporting Churches (or individuals), the support might dry up.

(2) They reported what God had done.

(a) They reported all. Luke is the scribe giving us what he had researched and experienced in compiling The Acts of the Apostles as the Spirit of God enabled him. However, like John writes:

Jn 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

The same would have been true of the apostles. The Spirit in His wisdom limits what is provided … because like John:

Jn 20:30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Understanding this, we will understand why everything we might want to know about Paul and his missionary journeys is not found on the pages of Scripture.

(b) God had done. We believe that Paul and Barnabas would have provided the Church with a day by day experience report of what happened under the hand of God. What is important to grasp here is that it is not what Paul or Barnabas did … but what God had done. It is so easy to try and take some credit for advances in the Gospel … and we tend to! Yet all converts are the work of the Spirit. All those maturing in the faith are a work of the Spirit. All Churches planted are God’s work. Nothing happens unless God permits it to happen. It is always good when pastors do not know who it is that comes to faith through their ministry. It is extremely helpful to credit God with those who mature under a pastor’s ministry. It is wonderful to be able to say … “God planted that Church!” A very old edition of how the Bible Society in South Africa started was called … “God made it grow”.

(c) Through them. Having said what was said already does not negate the fact that God uses people to do the work for Him. He does not have to. In a flash He could do whatever needs to be done … but He chooses to use men and women in ministry. If God is using you, give Him all the thanks and praise that you are able to serve Him. There is no greater privilege!

(d) God opened the door of faith. Note what Luke writes … how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Generally, the Gentiles were pagan, idol worshippers who participating in the worst immorality. Yet God opened the door of faith for them. He touched their hearts to let them hear and understand the Gospel message and be saved. This is the only way souls may be saved. It is a work of God. In grace He enables faith for salvation. (Eph 2:8-9).

(e) Reintegration into the Church’s ministry.

Ac 14:28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

The missionaries did not “enjoy” a sabbatical, holiday or recreational off time. In staying with the disciples for a long time means they returned to the ministries they had before being sent on a missionary journey. Missionary workers today who go on furlough don’t have a holiday. They do deputation work. They report back to their sending Churches. They preach or share in Churches. They advertise their ministry. Believers ought always to be found busy for the Lord! There is urgency! Lastly today … please pray for Turkey and Syria. Pisidia Antioch, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia were all in modern Turkey. Antioch where the sending Church was, was in Syria. These regions are not Christian today. They have and seemingly are experiencing devastating earthquakes. Tens of thousands have lost their lives with many injured and homes destroyed. Pray for these countries, for grace and mercy and provisions and help … but most of all for the Gospel to return there.

Lord Jesus, what happened with Paul and Barnabas with many coming to faith … please do it again in Turkey and Syria. Amen.

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