Paul and Barnabas arrived at Pisidian Antioch, weary and aching from their perilous march through the mountains. Still, they wasted no time in making their way to the synagogue early enough to find a good seat to listen to the reading of God's Word. They made their destination by the Sabbath.
Insight for Today
Written by Chuck Swindoll, these encouraging devotional thoughts are published seven days per week.
Here’s an important observation: all the way through ministry, people leave. In every church there will be individuals who, for whatever reason, move on to other things. This includes those in leadership. They leave, but the church presses on.
This was no time for Paul to be tolerant or passive. We live in a culture that virtually deifies tolerance. One lady recently said to me with a broad grin, "I love everybody; I even love the Devil." I call that "tolerance gone to seed." Make no mistake, we're not to love the Devil, nor are we to love everything everybody does.
Only you and the Lord know the condition of your heart. Is it soft and pliable clay, ready to be moulded and shaped by the Master sculptor? Or has it hardened into brittle and fragile pottery from years of faithless living? You know exactly what God is asking you to do.
Honestly, there have been times in my younger life when I stumbled onto that slippery slide. I look back on those few occasions with only regret. Nothing good ever comes from a ministry devoted to pleasing people.
God lifted these men from that exciting setting while the church was at its zenith, steaming full-bore. People were coming by the carload, deep needs were being met, souls were being saved, lives were being transformed, families were getting healthy, the place was electric! Still, the Spirit said, “It’s time for change.” Who would’ve ever imagined? But God is full of surprises, since He sees the big picture while we focus mainly on the here and now.
Ministering together is always an adventure. It’s about embracing change. It’s about maintaining flexibility. It’s about walking with God through the surprising events He has designed. Barnabas needed help. The work was too much for one gifted but limited man. Saul stepped into the gap. And together they turned Antioch upside down for Christ.
I love Warren Wiersbe’s succinct definition of ministry: “Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.” Saul and Barnabas could have sat for that portrait. Why did Saul and Barnabas experience such pleasure in serving together? No competition. No battle of egos. No one threatened by the other’s gifts. No hidden agendas. No unresolved conflicts. Their single-minded goal was to magnify Christ.
Suffering is a delicate subject. It’s not easy to address because I realize I’m writing to people who have known a depth of suffering to which I have never gone. In no way do I wish to give the impression that I am a model of how to go through it. To be honest with you, I fail in my responses to adversity more than I succeed.
Remember that suffering is not new. In what is probably the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job, we read, "For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). Now there's a statement we need to teach our children and grandchildren, starting today.