Message: In Acts 13 the church is fasting and
praying and the Holy Spirit tells them to send out Paul & Barnabas on
mission. They go exactly where the Holy Spirit leads them and are invited to
speak in a synagogue. The leaders and the people received the message well and
wanted to hear more the following week, but when the entire town gathered to
hear it they are not happy. Once again jealousy rose up, so instead of receiving
the message the Jews stirred up persecution against them. Paul and Barnabas told
them it was necessary for them to bring the gospel to them first, but since
they rejected it, they would turn to the gentiles instead because this is what
the Lord commanded.
Command: Sometimes the Holy Spirit leads us to
do things that appear unsuccessful or unfruitful, but we have to obey without regret
and remember that God has plans that we can’t see.
Promise: God’s plans are not unfruitful.
Everything he tells us to do has purpose even when we can’t see it.
Warning: If we focus too much on what appears
to have been unfruitful or unsuccessful, we will be tempted to hold back our
obedience the next time. Paul shook the dust off and continued forward.
Application: I have questioned my direction so
many times when I have done things that I believed God was asking me to do, and
then found myself in the middle of what appeared to be failure. In this case
there was no question that the Holy Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas. When it went
awry, they could have walked away feeling set-up, but they didn’t. They became
even more bold, shook off the dust and continued forward because they knew God
called them there and that result was exactly what God was expecting. This
challenges me to stop measuring my obedience by perceived success or failure. God
allows certain things to seemingly fail in order to launch other things that
are supposed to succeed. He also allows people to hear truth even if they
reject it initially, knowing that later on they might look back and remember
what they saw and heard. We can’t possibly determine the success or failure
based on the initial response. Our job is to deliver the message, the Holy
Spirit will work on the hearts. We are not responsible for the outcome. We are
responsible for our obedience.