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June 24

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‘Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”’ (Acts 15:36 NKJV).

From: June 24, 2020

HOW THE GREAT COMMISSION ENLARGES OUR HEARTS

After Paul and Barnabas finished their first missionary journey, they returned to their sending church at Antioch. What a joy it must have been to return to this large and prosperous church. After giving their report, they continuing teaching and preaching in Antioch. Yet after a while, Paul wanted to go back out and check on the new believers at the little churches he and Barnabas had planted in Galatia and Asia Minor. It was wonderful being back with the members of their home church, but they longed to see how their brethren in the new church plants were doing.
 
This is what happens to those who go to places outside their comfort zone carrying the gospel. They are stretched. Their focus turns from inward to outward, from the comfortable to the challenging. Why? Because they find new family members everywhere they go. And because their awareness of the Lord seems even more intimate when they are carrying His gospel to the nations.
 
Obeying the Great Commission enlarges our hearts for others above ourselves.
 
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for saving us and sending us to the nations with the gospel of Your Son. We ask that You strengthen us today to lift our eyes to You for where we are to focus next. It is so easy to be caught up in the things and interests of this world. We lift our eyes to You and to command of Your Son to make disciples of all nations. Help us to focus on this today and always. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.” (2 Kings 7:9 NLT).

From: June 24, 2019

FOUR LEPERS SHARE THE GOOD NEWS

When the armies of King Ben-Hadad of Aram besieged Samaria, the people of Israel were dying of starvation. Yet, the Lord revealed to His prophet Elisha that there would be plenty of food in the marketplace of Samaria within a day. That night the Lord caused the soldiers of Aram to hear the sounds of an approaching army and they fled in fear, leaving their supplies behind. At that same time, there were four lepers who sat at the city gate of Samaria who decided to surrender to the Arameans. When they entered the Aramean camp, they saw all the tents filled with food, supplies, and even silver and gold, and they ate and plundered the camp. Yet after a while, they felt bad about not sharing it with the starving and dying people of Israel. So, they headed back to Samaria to announce the “good news.”
 
We are like those four lepers. We freely received the grace and goodness of salvation when we surrendered ourselves to the Lord. Christ has freely given us all things. Yet, we are not like the four lepers if we fail to tell others the Good News about the riches of salvation we have found in Christ.
 
PRAYER: Lord, help us to be like the four lepers in that we have a holy urgency to share the Good News with others as they did. Help us to run back to the city gates and announce Your gospel to the city to which You have called us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work” (Acts 15:37-38 NLT).

From: June 24, 2018

THE DISAGREEMENT OVER JOHN MARK
Paul wanted to travel to check on the new believers that had come to faith on their first missionary journey. Barnabas agreed. However, they disagreed on taking John Mark with them again. Apparently, Paul considered the young man unreliable after he had “deserted them” and went home early on their last trip. But Barnabas, being the encourager that he was, wanted to give John Mark a second chance. Just as Barnabas had seen the potential in Paul, he saw it in John Mark. This led to a sharp disagreement, so they ended up splitting up the power team. Barnabas began to travel with John Mark. And Paul took on Silas as his new missionary companion.
 
Even committed believers can have disagreements. In this case, it led to two missionary teams going out. Over time, apparently the disagreement was forgiven and forgotten. For Paul wrote in at least two places concerning John Mark. In his letter to the church at Colossae, he wrote, “Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way” (Col. 4:10). When others had deserted Paul while he was in prison, John Mark had remained faithful to him.
 
And in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he wrote, “Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11). Paul’s impression of John Mark had certainly changed.
 
Traditionally, John Mark or simply “Mark,” is considered the author of the gospel according to Mark. I’m glad Barnabas kept on believing in John Mark, and Paul too, for that matter!

“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14 ESV)

From: June 24, 2016

The movement of the gospel from the Middle East into Europe began with a woman named Lydia. She heard the Good News from the apostle Paul while gathering with a women’s prayer group by the Krenides River outside the city of Philippi. Apparently, there wasn’t a sufficient population of Jews living there to establish a synagogue, so Lydia gathered with some local women to pray on the Sabbath. Can you imagine her delight when Paul, Silas and Timothy sat down near them and began to preach? Perhaps she had been praying for sometime for someone to come and open the Scriptures to them. And now, the Lord had answered her prayer. After receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, she was baptized, and so was her whole household. Her home became the first base of operations for the Philippi church as she insisted on the apostles staying in her house. Amazing how God first called a business woman to help open up the gospel to the Western world!

“One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying” (Acts 16:14 NLT)

From: June 24, 2014

Our calling is to bear witness to the gospel and leave the heart’s receptivity to the Lord. We can’t “open the heart” of the hearer, but we can open our own mouths to speak the gospel message. Paul’s faithfulness to sow the seed of the gospel everywhere he went and leave the heart condition of the soil up to God was what resulted in churches being planted all over the Roman world. I wonder how many “Lydias” are apparently going about their business, yet desperately looking for God? Are we willing to be like Paul and spread the Word?

“I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles” (Psalm 142:1-2)

From: June 24, 2012

David’s prayer from a cave, while hiding from King Saul. Have you ever been in a “cave,” a place of darkness and despair? You can pray like David. God already knows what you’re thinking, so don’t hold back. Pour out your heart. Then, wait for His grace and mercy to arrive.

“They tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (Acts 16:7)

From: June 24, 2011

When we are following Jesus for the sake of the gospel, He Himself leads us. Sometimes He hinders, sometimes He opens wide a door. Taking the Word to the whole world as He commanded while staying spiritually sensitive to His leading is key.