Acts: Day 19

Paul’s First Missionary Journey

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Today's Text: Acts 13:1-52, Galatians 3:10-14, Isaiah 49:6

Text: Acts 13:1-52, Galatians 3:10-14, Isaiah 49:6

They had been given a great responsibility. Paul and Barnabas knew what was at stake and that at any moment their lives could be taken from them. But God had given them a task: to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the nations.

What an emotional roller coaster they must have experienced those few weeks in Pisidian Antioch. One week they proclaimed the truth that Jesus is the promised Messiah, and the people were receptive to their message. So much so, they invited Paul and Barnabas to speak again. I envision Paul and Barnabas as they headed away from the crowd, jumping for joy and praising God for the incredible response from that day.

The next week, the whole city turned out to hear the word of the Lord (Acts 13:44). Can you imagine? It must have been so encouraging for Paul and Barnabas to realize the part they were playing in spreading the message of Christ.

But then it happened. The Jews became filled with jealousy (Acts 13:45). They began to oppose Paul and Barnabas and their message.

This wasn’t the first time Paul and Barnabas had faced opposition to the gospel message (Acts 9:29). Had they given up at the first sign of trouble, they would have missed out on participating in the incredible work God was doing in spreading the good news.

Paul and Barnabas were able to withstand the emotional highs and lows they faced throughout their ministry because they were resolved in their task, and they knew God was with them. They were confident God had called them to preach the message of Christ to the Gentiles. Regardless of what happened, they would do their very best to remain faithful.

God has given all of us tasks as well. He has placed them on each of our hearts and calls us to complete them. Maybe it’s a short-term task, changing daily. Or maybe it’s long-term, spanning the days and weeks and months ahead.

Whatever our unique calling, God doesn’t expect our perfection, but He does desire our faithfulness. As God used Paul and Barnabas to proclaim the truth of Scripture to the people in Pisidian Antioch, He has called each of us to be part of His saving work on this earth.

Even so, the outcome is not up to us. Paul and Barnabas were faithful. They may have felt like they had failed when the Jews rejected their message. But in His sovereignty, God used what seemed like failure to bring many Gentiles to Himself.

Friends, let us keep pressing on. Let us aim to be faithful to God’s calling, and learn to let go of our own expectations for perfection. We can rest easy in this truth: we are ultimately not responsible for the outcome of our efforts. That lies in the hands of our incredibly powerful and overwhelmingly sovereign God.

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  • camille collins

    this was so helpful.

  • Refreshed refreshed refreshed! Thank you. My soul is refreshed by this devotional. Bless you

  • Love, love, love. Both – God desires faithfulness not perfection (which he does not expect from His imperfect children), and we are not responsible for the outcome after we follow God in a situation. So much beautiful truth this morning!
    http://www.thegirlontheverge.com

  • Carrie Rogers

    So encouraging!

  • Ellington

    Me too Jeanne. Lord help us to wait and work and patiently trust.

  • Jennifer

    Whatever our unique calling, God doesn’t expect our perfection, but He does desire our faithfulness. Love this!

  • We are a tool, not the Creator of the plan. Yes, and AMEN. There is freedom in this and peace to keep going forward.

  • Melanie

    “51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.”
    This spoke to me! You cannot let anything hold you down from sharing the word of God. Shake off your fear or doubt or in my case anxiety! Needed this

  • Ellington

    I am so thankful for this community.

  • Ellington

    Thank you all for the prayers- Lynda, Brandi, Tricia, Rhonda, SRT. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means to me. I’m overwhelmed :’) And I’m praying (and thanking God!) for every one of you!

  • As a new mom, I need God more each day. Today my goal to be a perfect mom ended in the ER with my toddler getting staples in his head. I’m not perfect, but God doesn’t expect that. Thank you for this reminder today. My faith and God hopefully will help me be the mom my boys need. Thanks for helping me along this adventure.

  • JESSIEJAP

    I love that this reading stresses the importance of obedience above results. It forces us to relinquish control. Just give God your obedience (going and preaching like Paul and Barnabas) and He will take care of the results. So refreshing! I pray God always gives me the courage to obey and wisdom to let go of controlling the results.

  • Tochi Heredia

    “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” -Isaiah 49:6

    God has placed a great burden in my Argentine heart for the people of all nations that are currently living in London. I’m planning on moving there in a year from now.
    Imagine how heavy my heart is today, as the world faces the implications of the Brexit. I don’t know what all this means to me yet, but my sinful heart felt despair and kept me tossing and turning in anxiety all night long. Then I woke up and read the words of Isaiah and what God did through Paul and Barnabas.
    This reminded me that this is God’s work, not mine. He has given me the profound privilege of not only earning eternal life and a relationship with him, but also taking part in His Kingdom’s cause.
    Today, I rest assured that He will always be faithful and He’ll finish the good work He started in us.
    Today, I’m pressing on towards His calling.

    • Tamara B

      If it’s His will, nothing can change it

    • Kendall

      Hi Tochi! As soon as I heard about the Brexit, I thought of your initial post a couple weeks ago. I prayed for you and the implications this would have on your trip. As Tamara said, If HE wills it, you will be able to do it! I will continue to pray for you and your upcoming trip, and everything in between!

  • “Whatever our unique calling, God doesn’t expect our perfection, but He does desire our faithfulness. … let us keep pressing on, let us aim to be faithful to God’s calling, and learn to let go of our own expectations for perfection.”
    Wow. As a perfectionist, that was really powerful and freeing. I put so much pressure on myself trying to live up to my own high expectations of perfectionism as well as the added pressure of believing that everyone else expects me to be perfect too. It’s exhausting. I’ve been trying to break out of this mindset for a long time, but it’s hard and I keep getting sucked back in. Thank you Missy for this devotion today. I really needed it. God doesn’t expect me to be perfect and I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself.

    • Michelle

      Oh gosh- I absolutely agree with you that living up to your own high expectations of perfectionism is exhausting, and leads to death. I have never considered myself an extreme perfectionist, but I have been lately- mostly in the discernment of my own actions, motivations, and their outcomes. Perfectionism combined with people pleasing is absolutely deadly, and I needed to reminded myself that sanctification doesn’t happen overnight. Prayers for you!

    • Lacy

      Wow, it’s like we are the same person! This is something I struggle with daily, trying to let go of my own expectations of myself and trying to remind myself that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. I all too often beat myself up when I screw up instead of just repenting and accepting God’s wonderful gift of grace. May we both learn to let go of perfectionism and rely on our perfect God instead!

  • Sisters, please keep my mom in prayer. She was in the ER yesterday with stroke-like symptoms and they found she has blocked arteries in her neck as well as nodule on her brain that needs to be scanned. She also has to have 20 2 HR sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber before the extraction of a wisdom tooth due to her radiation. She is a 3 year cancer survivor and has been to hell and back.

  • Oh goodness, the calling of God is something that has been on my heart for many years, and is something that I’m always seeking to understand. Since finding the lord at 17, I’ve felt on my heart such a calling to work with children. After getting my degree in Fine Art, I taught K-8 for three years. During this time, I also felt a calling to make and sell my own work, which I couldn’t do while teaching (any teacher here knows that it’s a 24/7 job!). Long story short, I moved abroad and therefore gave up my job after much prayer, and now am in strong pursuits of making and selling work.
    I love the writer’s words, “Whatever our unique calling, God doesn’t expect our perfection, but He does desire our faithfulness.” A month or so ago I commented here about the struggles of staying motivated as a freelancer, and another commented “God doesn’t expect perfection, but He does expect diligence”. Those words have truly stuck with me! Paul and Barnabus must have had so many inner fears that COULD have stopped them in their tracks. They know that not everyone would be receptive to their message, but travelled and spoke anyway because it was diligent and faithful to God.
    In this time of starting my small business, my prayer is to trust God, and know that He will lead me towards His plans. To know that by being diligent and faithful, He’ll take care of the rest. I do wish He would just appear and literally tell me word for word what to do, or so clearly point me in the right direction. I’m one of those people who finds everything interesting, often wondering “what if I would make a really great _______ (nurse! geologist! anthropologist! etc, etc)?”. I have to trust that God has me in the right place, and not always be searching myself.

    • Susie

      Jeanne – I know exactly what you are speaking of! I too am struggling in this way – with a “day” job while pursuing my dream of creating/rehabbing furniture. I have so often prayed that God would “just tell me in plain English” what his will is for me so that I don’t/can’t mess things up. I fear that in my excitement I will somehow twist what I want into what He wants for me. But the Lord is ever faithful and has continually provided encouragement and opportunity just when it is most needed. I will continue to be diligent and faithful, and trust that He will lead me according to His perfect plan, allowing me to use the unique gifts He has given me to do His work. As always, it is uplifting to know that I do not walk alone. Grateful for you sisters in Christ and SRT!

    • Nikravesous

      Jeanne and Susie, I too struggle mightily in this area! I am looking at going to grad school in fall of 2017 and feel like God wants me to pursue this in the city we currently live in, but at the same time He seems to be opening doors for my husband to advance in his career if we moved. I have been praying for clarity on which is His plan, as it seems to me they can’t both be for right now. I realize now that even though I haven’t gotten clarity on this issue, God has been working me through other things in my life and I think i just need to have faith and trust that He will show us the way when the time comes.

  • Christina Gandy

    I question my calling every time I see a wedding picture printed out on canvas from Wal-Mart. It is good to know that Paul and Barnabas kept persisting even though their message is rejected over and over and over again. They did not take things personally and had faith. I needed to be reminded of this today, as well.

  • Keri Underwood

    “Paul and Barnabas were able to withstand the emotional highs and lows they faced throughout their ministry because they were resolved in their task, and they knew God was with them.” – I’m in a season of high emotion and sometimes I let the emotions rule. Thank you for this gentle reminder that God is with me, He is in control, and despite my emotions I should rest in the knowledge that He’s got this!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

  • I like rules. They set parameters and define expectations. They provide the fences that keep me safe. Looking at myself honestly, I identify with those Jews; memorizing their scripture, making the appointed sacrifices at the appointed times, ceremonially washing to their elbows, and looking down on those who didn’t obey the law. They weren’t willing to accept Jesus as the Messiah because it meant radical change from their legalistic approach to their beliefs. And now, along comes Paul and Barnabas, preaching the redemption of the Gentiles. The hardness of their hearts and their unwillingness to let go of what they had “always done” led to them being condemned to eternal separation from God. I needed to be reminded of this, to allow flexibility to come into my heart, to be open to the Word of God, to change and be in accord with His will, not mine. Whew.

  • This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa: “God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful.” Thanks SRT.

  • We can rest easy in this truth: we are ultimately not responsible for the outcome of our efforts. That lies in the hands of our incredibly powerful and overwhelmingly sovereign God.
    Pleased to see this reminder this morning. There are so many things I feel like I have to do or called to do as a mom a wife, stepmother and all the other roles I play for the people in my life. At times I get frustrated because I don’t always get the results I work for,expect and pray for. It’s nice to know that all God wants is my best and He will do the rest. As long as I can look at any given situation and say at least I gave it my all, I can rest in that. Praise God for His goodness! Thanks SRT

    • Jeanne

      Isn’t it so easy to forget that? That “all God wants is my best, and He will do the rest”? Praying that I will always keep this in mind, too. <3

  • Father, I pray You would help me withstand the emotional highs and lows I face as a wife and a mother. Enable me to be resolved in my task and always be mindful that You are with me.

  • Sometimes I get so caught up in the world’s defintion of success that I forget what matters is not the numbers and the data but being able to answer the question “was I faithful to the calling God has given me?” And if I can say yes to that today was a success no matter if one person heard me speak or read my posts or one hundred people did. It is my job to carry out God’s calling, it is His job to use my calling to change lives.

  • What a great reminder this morning! Often I’m so paralyzed by the world’s desperate need for Jesus that I feel my small efforts will never be enough. But that’s the point, we cannot do this on our own, God is sovereign and we are not responsible for the outcome!

  • Sometimes what we see as failure or imperfection was apart ph the plan anyways. His ways are not our ways. :)

  • Caroline

    “Whatever our unique calling, God doesn’t expect our perfection, but He does desire our faithfulness.” <— I love this. I am so thankful that he wants our faith, not our perfection.

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • I have an immense amount of fear over a specific relationship. But I know that God is good , he will get the glory, and both people will be better do to His goodness. So despite doubt, miscommunication, broken expectations, loneliness, and heartache, God is good, sovereign, and kind. He will not place you where he is not guiding you. I pray we stay firm in our yearns to draw near to Him & the watch in Joy as He alone guides our lives. Amen.

  • Bridget

    This is spoke right to my heart this morning. As a mother, I am called to be faithful in teaching/modeling Jesus to my children BUT I am ultimately not responsible for the outcome of my efforts.

  • These truths are very encouraging to our family as we adjust to the challenges of parenting two newly adopted children, as was yesterday’s reading. May we view hard times as special opportunities to pray, remain faithful, and trust God with the outcome.

    • Jen

      Talk about God’s redemptive, saving work here on earth :) Praying for God to cover you and your family in encouragement and strength as you begin this journey!

  • Ellington

    Please pray for me.

  • The verse that jumped out at me was, While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2. The Holy Spirit set them apart and sent them on their way. The had no idea who or where but they went. Really goes along with the last line of the devotional.

    “Friends, let us keep pressing on. Let us aim to be faithful to God’s calling, and learn to let go of our own expectations for perfection. We can rest easy in this truth: we are ultimately not responsible for the outcome of our efforts. That lies in the hands of our incredibly powerful and overwhelmingly sovereign God. ”
    Paul and Barnabas were free of expectations of the outcome they moved forward in what God told them to do and let God take care of the results. Sometimes I think we freeze in our calling because the efforts seem wasted or not progressing. We may even try to control the outcomes so we have satisfaction in what we have done. Paul and Barnabas show clearly it’s a work of His Spirit. He calls us, we go. It’s obedience at its finest. The rest is in His hands. “But they shook the dust of their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:51-52. Their joy lied in their obedience. “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
    Hebrews‬ ‭12:2

  • “Friends, let us keep pressing on. Let us aim to be faithful to God’s calling, and learn to let go of our own expectations for perfection. We can rest easy in this truth: we are ultimately not responsible for the outcome of our efforts. That lies in the hands of our incredibly powerful and overwhelmingly sovereign God.”
    How amazing is this prayer!
    Thank you SRT for the reminder to take time to listen.

  • churchmouse

    The times in which we live are increasingly turbulent. I pray that I would remain resolved to the task of being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. I pray that regardless of the emotional highs and lows, the gains and the set- backs, I would remember that God is with me. He will not get perfection but I pray He finds me faithful. To the end. Amen.

  • Rest is a hard thing but the only way to freedom!

  • Emily A

    Love this morning’s reading. My family is in need of prayers for wisdom … And patience will we wait for The right path to become clear. We’ve had a number of circumstances change, very quickly, that have changed what we thought were the next steps in our journey. I would really appreciate any extra prayers & love you can send our way. Thank you!

    • Sam

      Emily,
      Change can be difficult, especially when unexpected and different than what our hearts desire. But change is inevitable, and I pray that He uses this time for you and your family to draw closer to Him. That He gives you peace in knowing that He. Is. God. You are a daughter of The King, and you are cherished. He has you wrapped in His arms. Praying for you this morning sweet sister.

    • churchmouse

      Flexibility is so hard! But trust that God knows what He has planned and He will direct your path. Praying for you all

  • When we REST in the truth that we are not responsible for the outcome of our efforts…we are authentic in our faith, we cease striving, and we are free!

    • Taylor

      Rea, this point stood out to me most as well. What a release to not be responsible for our outcomes… But our great and mighty God is! Phew!

    • Bek

      amen!!

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