Summary: Paul and Barnabas' example are a remedy for building stronger churches.

JUN 23 2013PM How Churches are Made Strong

Acts 14: 21-28

Last time we left off with Paul and Barnabas in Lystra. They healed a lame man. The crowd tried to make sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas but they told them that they were only human and to give God the glory. The people still tried to worship Paul and Barnabas despite what they told them.

Then some of the disgruntled people from the previous two cities of Iconium and Antioch made their way to Lystra to make sure they kept things stirred up. They won the crowd over. In other words, the people who were devoted to the preachers one minute, turned their backs on them the next minute and stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. But Paul wasn’t dead. He got up, went back into the city and the next day he and Barnabas left for the city of Derbe.

READ vv. 21-22. Their first task was to preach the good news and make disciples. After their work in Derbe, notice they backtracked to the cities from which they had passed through previously; Lystra Iconium, and Antioch. Note that the ministry of Paul and Barnabas, as led by God, was to preach the good news and make disciples and that is exactly what they did. Disgruntled people in most any church will do whatever they can to try to persuade the preacher to preach only what they want to hear. They will try to misdirect God’s will and get their own. But a true minister, called of God, will not stray from God’s direction.

Paul’s and Barnabas’ ministry was to make disciples. They had made many disciples. They not only preached, they had taken the believers and made disciples out of them. A disciple is a follower. And we’re all disciples of someone or of something.

People have worshipped and made themselves disciples of Elvis, Hannah Montana, and who knows what other rocks stars or sports starts. What about you? Are you a disciple of anything or anyone? The most important discipleship of all is following Jesus in life no matter what else we do.

What’s the sign of a disciple of Jesus? You go to church. You may go to church every time the door is open. You get involved. You give. You serve. You pray. You witness. You evangelize. All these and perhaps more indicate you are disciple of Jesus. Of course, some people just go to church occasionally, thinking that may qualify them to be a disciple.

Someone said: "I go to church, so I am a Christian." But that’s like saying if you go to McDonald’s that makes you a Quarter Pounder.

A little old Jewish lady was flying out of New York City on her way to Miami Beach. She looked at the businessman sitting next to her and asked him, "Excuse me sir, but are you Jewish?" The man responded politely, "No, ma’am, I’m not Jewish." After a little while she again asked him. "You’re really Jewish, aren’t you?" Again he responded, "No, ma’am, I am not Jewish."

Barely 10 minutes later, the little old lady asked him once more, "Are you sure you’re not Jewish?" To which, in exasperation and in a final effort to shut her up, he replied, "OK. Yes, ma’am, I am Jewish." "Funny," she says, looking puzzled. "You don’t look Jewish!"

If someone were to ask, "Are you a Christian?" and you responded "Yes, I am!" they might say, "Funny, you don’t look like a Christian." Sometimes we don’t resemble a disciple of Jesus, BUT WE SHOULD! That is, our spirit, our attitude, our enthusiasm, our love, etc. should come from Christ. There should be a difference in us from other people because we’ve been with Jesus! We are His disciples and we should be interested in making more disciples.

WE NEED TO BE MAKING CONVERTS! HOW DO WE MAKE DISCIPLES? We invite them in or else go get them. However, to invite them into our service we must have something to draw them. As we go, we must preach.

We need to be quick to point people to Christ and to the church as we go places. We have opportunities all the time. We just need to be alert to them. We need to be open to opportunities to speak for Christ no matter where we are or what crowd we’re with. If our faith means anything at all to us we need to be giving it to others!

THEN WE MUST STRENGTHEN THE DISCIPLES. Verse 22 says they were strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.

ILL. - Josiah Perkins was celebrating his one-hundredth birthday when a reporter called and interviewed him. “Do you think you’ll live another hundred years?” the reported asked. “Don’t see why I shouldn’t,” Josiah replied. “I’m a heap stronger than I was a hundred years ago today.”

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