When they had preached the gospel to that city (Derbe) and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Anticoch, strengthening the souls of the disciples encouraging them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God. Acts 14:21-22
What follows the Gospel? Not exactly what folks think, I would guess. I wonder why I don’t think about “continuing in the faith” and the corollary “tribulations.”
Every time I do one of these postings I want first and foremost reveal my heart and mind. I don’t want to parade knowledge but humbly tearing open my chest and looking at my soul. I hope the reader of these postings sees that.
This is what caught my eye today: Paul and Barnabas, making disciples by: strengthening the souls of the disciples; encouraging them to continue in the faith; not making any secret that “entering the Kingdom of God” will be through many tribulations.
I want my soul to be strengthened; I want to be encouraged; I want to continue in the faith; I want to enter the Kingdom of God. Candidly I want no part of tribulation at any degree, soft to hard.
Why is that? The Word of God indicates that tribulation and the Way to the Kingdom sort of goes hand in hand, right? For me, the answer is simple: I like the soft life. I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to be in need.
Let me be clear: I am thinking about the tribulation stuff because while it isn’t true for me, it is true for others. They have a hard life, hurting, and in need. But how to prepare? It is by having my soul strengthened and continuing in the faith.
Danny preached this past Sunday with the admonition of “presence, not performance” attitude about Jesus—-making the priority of knowing Him before anything else. Who is the ultimate encourager, the ultimate soul-strengthener? That would be the Holy Spirit.
Ok, now that I have provided the Sunday School answer, what else? Heb 3:12 “Encourage one another day by day as long as it is called “Today” so that (or lest if you have a King Jimmy version) none would fall into the deceitfulness of sin.” (my butchered translation)
It is not enough to keep myself private (just me and You, Holy Spirit) when God says unequivocally that we are to engage with each other. I should look to find evidences of Grace in another and put courage in them (encourage) so that they avoid sinful thoughts, musings, and actions. We PARTICIPATE in each other’s lives. We are the community of Believers.
Father, I took a long step from Paul and Barnabas preaching the circuit to talking about Encouraging one another. It seems to be to be the right step though. I forget to look for evidences of Grace in others. I forget to encourage others to continue in the faith, to strengthen their souls, etc. This isn’t just the pastor’s province: As I pursue You, I should share the good good things You have provided. Oh, God of goodness and mercy: Thank You. AMEN.