Summary: This message is to encourage the church to never give up on the mission. Regardless of the circimstances that may arise, we should hang on to God’s unchanging hand and to take that much needed step to recieve our promised blessing.
NEVER GIVE UP
One thing we have to learn as Christians is, regardless of how hard things get or how disheartening they may become, we must not give up. I’ve discovered in this vocation as a pastor, is that every pat on the back is not for encouragement, every smile is not in friendship, and many promises are just idle words. But yet through it all I must continue to lead, pray, and encourage, even those who mean the ministry no good, with the hope that one day the Lord will touch their hearts to please Him rather than themselves.
Dr. H. Beecher Hick, tell a story about a fern and a bamboo plant. He said in planting the fern, it will start to grow within the first year, but the bamboo plant will show no visible sign of growth. The second year the fern will sprout new growth, but again the bamboo showed nothing. This went on for the next two years with the same results, the fern growing all over the place and the bamboo still showing no signs of growth, but don’t give up on the bamboo. Because in the fifth year the bamboo grew six inches out of the ground, and the fern had peaked in its growth. Dr. Hicks proceeded to say that while the fern was growing on the surface, the bamboo was having viable root growth under the surface. He then asked the question “How high will the bamboo grow? His answer was as high as the bamboo wants to grow. You have to understand that just because you might go through minimum growth from time to time and there are people that are half hearted in their worship, don’t worry because like the bamboo, we are growing roots underneath and God is raising up a people that are growing out of view of mankind and growing internally to endure.
In last week’s lesson we saw how the devout Jews chose to give up on the blessing that the Father had promised them to bring to the world, and that was His Son and His life changing words. And all this was because of the jealous spirit that they had because of the two missionaries named Paul and Barnabas, who preached in the synagogue. Their words were so impressive that they were asked to return to the synagogue on the next Sabbath, and when they did, almost the whole city came out to hear them. But the Jews spoke against the word that they spoke contradicting them and committing blasphemy. It was then, that Paul and Barnabas grew bold, and reminded them that the words they spoke were to come to them first, but seeing that they did not feel worthy of everlasting life, Paul and Barnabas then turned the gospel to the Gentiles who gladly receive it. Not only did the Gentiles receive the word of life but they also published it throughout all the regions. And when the devout Jews stirred up the people and wanted to expel them from their borders. Paul and Barnabas did as the Lord had instructed the twelve to do as they went out to preach the kingdom of God. They shook the dust from their feet as a testimony against them.
In this lesson, again we find these two missionaries and their assistant facing even more rejection. They are found in Iconium after being ejected from Antioch. They once again took their ministry into the synagogue, and like in Antioch, they preached to a mix crowd, those who rejected and those who would receive. And again the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and contaminated their minds with evil. But Paul and Barnabas never gave up on the mission that they were chose to do. So let’s take a look at these chosen men of God and be encouraged with their drive to never give up in-spite of their opposition.
First of all . . .
1. THEY COULDN’T GIVE UP BECAUSE THE WORD THEY PREACHED WAS OVERLY ANOINTED (V.1)
“And it came to pass in Iconium that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke, that a great multitude, both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
As we see these men of God entering into Iconium, they are found following the same steps they used in Antioch. They entered the synagogue preaching to the Jews and the Greeks. We must understand their logic. They had to go into the synagogue with the good news because of the Jews were the people of promise, and the word had to be preached first to them before it was to go abroad as we found out in Antioch. Now regardless of them shaking the dust from their feet in Antioch as a testament against the Jews there, it did not mean that the Lord felt the same way toward every Jew in every province. He only felt that way to those who rejected His word. But look what happened in Iconium. Verse one says that they so spoke, that a great multitude, both of the Jews and also the Greeks believed. The N. L. T. says of this verse that they preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. The word that they preached that day, still have the same power today. It is that many of the apostles who preached it then, preached it armed in the Holy Spirit. The Apostles preached with the anointing. Now days they preach with a degree. The apostles preached because they were called by the Lord. Today, many preach because they were call by money. The Apostles preached with a purpose. Today, they preach with popularity in mind. We should note in the text that they were not interested in degrees, money, or popularity, they were interested in winning another soul for the Lord Jesus Christ. So they couldn’t give up because the word they preached was so anointed.