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Focused Intention

There have been many different perspectives given as to why John Mark left the missionary journey on the first leg of the tour, but we won't know the real reason this side of glory. The following scripture tells of this event at the start of Paul's first missionary journey. Acts 13: 3 Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 But Paul and Barnabas traveled inland to Antioch of Pisidia. It was at this point that Paul establishes that he is the one in charge when making decisions and his Focused Intention was evident. Paul took the "bull by the horns" and stepped out aggressively in faith to preach the Good News of Jesus. In a world of apathetic naysayers without the purpose of the gospel being preached, the naysayers get intimidated by a Focused Intention and begin to attack the one who is stepping up to make a firm decision. The first thing they do is doubt and question the one making decisions and then they get a group of people to do the same to shut that man down. This is exactly what was attempted against Paul.

Keep in mind it wasn't the mighty church at Jerusalem that sent out Paul and Barnabas, but the mission-minded church at Antioch that prayed, fasted and sent out these two great messengers of the gospel. Had it not been for the commitment of the fellowship of believers at Antioch, Paul might never have even done one missionary journey! Paul's focus was so intense that he knew the ones who would last and would not take John Mark back in Acts 15 when approached by Barnabas. So Barnabas left Paul as well. Paul's great friend and encourager could not persuade Paul to accept John Mark back on the mission field. This may seem mean or cruel to some, but keep in mind that Paul was in charge and the Holy Spirit was guiding him to do what was "best" not just to be friendly and accepted.

Christians of nominal faith always hate those with a Focused Intention, and instead of spurring them on with encouragement try to get them to change their focus. Paul wouldn't give in and there were three more missionary journeys and many more souls saved and churches began because of his holding to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Paul was the one "called" to lead and even Barnabas couldn't understand his reason for not accepting John Mark back on the team. Acts 15: 36 After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.”37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark.38 But Paul disagreed strongly since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus.40 Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care.41 Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.

Once again, Paul rejected human nature, or the natural man's intent, and kept trusting the Holy Spirit for guidance and God came through again and again. Also, Paul chose a new traveling companion in Silas and God used their team to do even more than what had been done with Barnabas the encourager. Paul no longer needed Barnabas and the Holy Spirit became his central source of encouragement. God blessed Paul for keeping his mission purpose in focus and Silas apparently had the same Focused Intention as Paul.

If God calls you to do a certain thing for him plan on naysayers trying to stop you for whatever reason they use. But do not stop!! The plan Jesus has for your life is specific to you and keep moving toward that plan no matter who tries to get in your way. Why? Because Jesus is our Vision Maker!!

The Pilgrimage Continues

David Warren

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