PAUL STRENGTHENED THE BELIEVERS
Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe after they were stoned in Lystra, preached the gospel, and made many disciples there. After some time, they decided to pass through Lystra and Antioch in Pisidia to strengthen the disciples and encourage them to continue their faith in the Lord Jesus before returning to Jerusalem. They said, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." They then appointed elders (church leaders) with prayer and fasting to lead the church there and committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. After going through Antioch Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia, and back to Antioch in Syria. Paul and Barnabas completed their first missionary journey as the Holy Spirit called and guided them through it. (Acts 14:21-28). First Missionary Journey map.
Being a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ was difficult during the time of Paul and Barnabas. There were many oppositions against Christianity. Paul and Barnabas almost died of stoning, but the Lord preserved their life. The believers were constantly being persecuted, and the only way to become a believer was to go through suffering because once a person became a believer of our Lord Jesus Christ, he/she would face persecution from the community and even through their families and friends. Jesus said, "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division" (Luke 12:51). Jesus was warning His disciples that families, friends, and communities might be divided because of believing in Him. Today, many families from different religions are divided because of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, we must stand firm and never compromise our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ because our Lord Jesus Christ is the only true God who can save the world from sins. If we face challenges in our family, friends, and community because of our faith in the Lord Jesus, keep on praying for our families, friends, and communities that they will become believers. Never give up, and keep on walking with the Lord.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through these questions carefully and meditate on them while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speaks to you). Am I willing to stand firm in my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ despite the persecution? What should I do when my family and friends do not believe what I believe? Am I willing to suffer for my faith in my Lord Jesus?
Father in Heaven, I admit that I don't like suffering, but I am willing to go through it if this results from genuinely believing in you. Please help to stand firm in my faith and never compromise. I pray for my families, friends, and community that are opposed to my faith that they, too, will believe in you and that their sins will be forgiven and saved. In your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.