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When the Momentum Kicks In

Acts 14: 20 The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. 21 And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made a good number of disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “It is through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom of God.” 23 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 They passed through Pisidia and came into Pamphylia. 25 When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work that they had accomplished. 27 When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all the things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they spent a long time with the disciples.

Paul is stoned and dragged out of town and those believers came and circled him to protect him after those who did the deed thought he was dead. But Paul got up and kept going and went to the next stop on this missionary journey and scripture says that God made a good number of disciples. The next thing Paul did was to go back to some of the towns where he had preached the gospel and he encouraged those new converts. His message was one of hope and faith as he told those believers that it was through tribulations that we must enter the kingdom of God. Not really a good selling point for new converts maybe to be told that they were going to have to HAVE to go through tribulations. Tribulation (def) - great trouble and suffering. Paul spoke from "experience" since he had just been stoned for preaching the gospel, but he also spoke to the power of God to keep them going, even when some thought he was killed from the stoning. Never underestimate the power and the presence of God in any situation. No matter what happens Paul spurs them on to greatness in the name of Jesus. Paul appointed elders for them in every church and these elders were commissioned to keep the fire burning and they were not appointed haphazardly, but with much prayer and fasting.

Leaders are important in a new testament church because leaders are responsible for keeping the momentum when God moves in the message being proclaimed. There are many dead churches because there are dead leaders leading them and this has become an epidemic. The difference between a "hired" leader and a "called" leader could make the difference in a church keeping the momentum of the message of Christ going. Hired leaders are doers, but usually not "dreamers" and never step out in faith to lead the people of God to greatness and thus the momentum of the Lord's work falls into disrepair. The elders who Paul appointed were prayed and fasted for and that is serious God's business and not just hiring someone who does church-type stuff. Remember we are in a spiritual battle and this battle must be fought at every turn with the leadership of the Holy Spirit and that involves much prayer and yes, fasting.

It is not "if" God is going to move when we preach the message of Jesus, it is how He is going to move, and as in Paul's case God moved just how it was needed. Paul goes to the church house and is rejected by those religious leaders and then he takes it to a house in the area and preaches the full message of the gospel. The people are convicted and receive Jesus and then they begin to share the message as led by their lives being changed by the Holy Spirit. The religious leaders hunt down Paul to stop the message but God intervenes and the message continues. Those leaders take those new converts and grow them in their faith and walk with Jesus and through that growth, the church continues to grow and thrive. No one can stop the power of God when it shows up, but we can slow it down from our lack of faith in that power. God is always moving and calling new people to the work and to capture that momentum means we are to discover those people and compel them to follow God's leading. Thus, the message continues to be proclaimed and constant revival takes place, which gets us back to God's plan in the first place.

The Pilgrimage Continues

David Warren

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