Today’s Reading: Acts 13:4-5 NIV
4 The two of them [Paul and Barnabas], sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John [Mark] was with them as their helper.
This was it! The beginning of a brand new adventure – the first of many missionary journeys abroad! How did Paul and Barnabas decide where to begin? Every year, our missions and outreach ministry teams begin the process of discerning where to plant new seed of faith in their communities, cities, and surrounding countries. We cannot quench the spiritual excitement that comes from launching a new ministry in a new location. Is it difficult discerning where to begin?
Paul, Barnabas and John Mark went with one purpose in mind – to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ everywhere they went. Their mission was possible, due in full to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is easy to jump ahead of the Lord, taking matters into our own hands and not fully waiting and relying upon Him to lead us. This human tendency is a clear recipe for disaster. I am excited to be part of a prayer team at Faith Church, where we fully submit to discerning and listening for the Lord’s lead in every aspect of our outreach ministries to the community where we live. The Apostle Paul knew a lot about the power of prayer; he practiced it every minute of every day. His spiritual ear became so acute that he did not miss out on the direction Christ would have him take. We can learn a great deal from the very first missionary journey of Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark.
I imagine Barnabas was excited to have the opportunity to take Christ’s message of salvation to his home town. He grew up on the island of Cyprus, and it was a privilege to share the Good News with his faith community; the Jewish people whom he dearly loved. It can be disappointing when we experience rejection while trying to tell our family and friends about what Jesus has done for us. We want so much for all to know Christ. When our words seem to fall on deaf ears, it can be discouraging. Yet, we do not lose hope, for we know that the Word of God will penetrate and reach far beyond what we can begin to see with physical eyes. Seeds of faith are never wasted. You will never know who may choose to share the light you leave behind.
Are you thinking about taking a mission trip? Are you having difficulty deciding where to begin? Pour your heart’s desire out to the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer today, and wait for His discerning spirit to guide you in the next steps. How will the Lord choose to use you to spread His Gospel around the world this year?
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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