- Lorie Hedgepeth
Acts 14: 19-22
“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch. Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Paul… the New Testament apostle, was filled with faith and fire. Paul was an evangelist, missionary, church planter and writer. Paul was no stranger to the miraculous. It was not unusual for him to see the lost saved, the sick healed and the bound set free. But, if we were to put Paul’s ministry under the microscope of examination, what would it look like?
First, Paul worked to “confirm the souls of the disciples”. The NLT states that he “strengthened the disciples”. We can be assured that Paul’s ministry efforts were not done at random. The need for strengthening never diminishes nor dissipates. I may have spent time with God this morning… yet, feel the need for strengthening this afternoon. Being in church, raising my hands in worship, praying at the altar, or praying in the Spirit, does not permanently eliminate our need for being strengthened. We don’t believe or preach “once strong always strong”. Pastor, your continued consistent preaching and teaching of God’s Word meets a desperate need and an ongoing need, in the lives of those you to whom you minister.
Not only did Paul confirm/strengthen the disciples, he also exhorted them to continue in the faith. If those New Testament saints needed to be encouraged not to give up, how much more do we and those we serve? Sometimes a “spirit of quit” can come on even the most devout and dedicated of God’s people. Perhaps even now, you are weary from the work—not weary of it- but, weary from it. Adversity and apathy in the church is tempting you to cease and desist in your service to God’s church. I encourage you this morning to keep going. It’s one thing to step back, rest, refresh, refocus and re-fire… but, don’t quit! There may be many frustrations and few “thankyous” – but, don’t quit! People come and people go… but, don’t quit!
Pastors and their wives spend a lifetime confirming, strengthening and exhorting. Those things are not always done from behind the pulpit. It happens in counseling; It happens in hospital rooms and hospital waiting rooms; It happens in funeral parlors and at the cemetery during a graveside service; It happens in board meetings, committee meetings and around the table in a restaurant.
Whether you serve as pastor, worship leader, youth pastor, nursery worker, board member or greeter…or you faithfully pray and intercede for the workers and leaders in your church---Thank You for all you do to serve and bless others week after week.