Scripture:

Acts 14:21-23 – After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

Observation:

Believers need to be strengthened and encouraged as part of a discipleship process. This requires follow up on the part of those leading. Paul and Barnabas don’t tell the believers that following Jesus will be an easy path. They remind them that there will be suffering to live a godly life in Christ and enter in the Kingdom of God. Prayer and fasting precedes an important decision like selecting elders for the church.

Application:

When someone places their faith in Jesus that is not the end, rather it is the beginning of a lifelong journey. We are commanded to disciple other believers to include strengthening and encouraging them to obey Jesus. I am starkly reminded, as Paul was nearly stoned to death for preaching the Gospel, that with faith in Jesus will come hardships. It is how we navigate/handle the trials where we can show faith and bring the glory to Him. Prayer needs to be my first step in any decision making process no matter how big or how small. We have to trust our elders to lead our local congregation as they are led by the Lord.

Prayer:

Father,
Thank you for your love and the opportunity to live as a community of believers. Please help me to be a source of encouragement and strength to disciple your flock. May I reach out to you in prayer to guide my decisions.