But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. (Acts 13:14 KJV)
When we think of the apostle Paul, in what category or profession do we think of him? We tend to think of him as a great preacher, an apostle, a church-builder, and the inspired author of much of the . We admire his courage, his stamina, and his zeal. We seek enlightenment from his writings. Paul was a preacher, he was a teacher, he was a church-builder, and he was an author. Paul was also one hundred percent a missionary.
He traveled mile after mile proclaiming the Word of God to all who would listen, and often his audience was very hostile toward him. He was beaten, left for dead, ship-wrecked, and run out of town. He was imprisoned. He had plenty of tests on his faith. Perhaps he quoted the 23rd Psalm for comfort and assurance during those times. He certainly knew the Scriptures. He traveled both by water and land. Have you ever had your flight delayed because of bad weather, causing you much anguish because of missed appointments or re-arranged schedules? Paul experienced delays because of the weather. There were times the ship he was on had to stay in port somewhere for extended periods of time because the wind was not blowing or was in a direction not favorable to send the ship on its planned course.
The Romans, according to history, built many good roads throughout the territories they occupied. These roads enabled their military to be deployed to whatever area they were needed. Paul walked these roads, and probably some of much lesser quality, to preach the Gospel. This is the same man who before his missionary endeavors had been on a different kind of mission, that of persecuting all Christians. Christ had turned Paul around through His grace, and Paul was wearing out sandals on mission trips.
At Antioch, Paul and Barnabas preached a great evangelical message. They preached on forgiveness, they preached on justification, and they preached the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. They preached salvation through Jesus Christ. They were invited back the next Sabbath to preach again. The Jewish religious leaders would have no part of this, and they made Paul and Barnabas leave town. For many, this would have been discouraging to the point plans would have been made to go home. Not Paul and Barnabas! What did they do? They went on a mission trip to Iconium, filled with the Holy Spirit.
Do you know a missionary personally? Have you heard of the trials missionaries face daily as they work towards spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you sympathetic to their needs? Do you pray daily for them? They sure covet your prayers and support. You can be a missionary yourself. God can use you to travel around the block on which you live to tell your neighbors about Christ. He may want you to go much further than your neighborhood, but what better place to start than there?
By Thomas E. Kittrell © 2006
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