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Summary: WRAPPING UP A MEMORABLE TRIP (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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Reading: Acts chapter 14 verses 21- 28:

A Quick Review

• The two missionaries (Paul & Barnabus) had been away from home for months.

• They had journeyed from Antioch of Syria to Derbe which is in modern day Turkey.

• During this first missionary journey;

• Paul & Barnabus had faced allsorts of opposition and illness.

• e.g. John Mark who was with them went AWOL, in other words he abandoned the mission.

• And became the very first returnee missionary!

• e.g. And in Lystra; they were worshiped as gods;

• But then the crowd turned and Paul was stoned and left for dead.

So verse 21 is an insightful verse:

• There they "preached the gospel" and "made many disciples".

• You might expect them to stay where God was obviously blessing them.

• But they decide to return to Antioch of Syria.

• Via all the places that they had evangelised on the way.

• They could have taken the easy safe option (staying where they were);

• Or even taking a different, safer route home.

I believe they backtracked through the cities they had just evangelised:

• Because they knew that they had only done part of what God had called them to do.

• Visiting the newly established churches along the way.

Quote: My job description:

• (1). To bring folks to Jesus.

• (2). To bring them closer!

• That is the message of the great commission;

• We are called to make disciples, not just win a convert.

• In our ministry, we spend a lot of time disciplining believers;

• As well as evangelising people.

So in verse 21b Paul and Barnabas gather their courage:

• And it would take great courage to go back to communities;

• Where their lives had been put in danger and opposition was waiting for them.

• To go back could be was like re-entering the lion’s den.

• But for the sake of the new Churches that had been founded, they were willing to face that danger!

• As they travel and teach, they have a five-step plan for building up the new Christians;

• A plan we can still follow in our homes and churches today.

(1). They Strengthened the new Christians

(vs 22a):

22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.”

Ill:

• A group of tourists were visiting a picturesque village;

• They walked by an old man sitting beside a fence.

• In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked,

• "Were any great men born in this village?"

• The old man replied, "Nope, only babies."

• A frothy question brought a profound answer.

Paul and Barnabus return to these Churches because they are full of new born babies!

• If they are to grow into great men and women of God;

• They will need to be strengthened in their faith!

Ill:

• Remember that these new Christians had no conferences or Bible schools to attend.

• No Christian bookshops where they could purchase good helpful books.

• No DVD’s, C.D.’s or tapes (or records Mike!);

• Don’t forget that there wasn't even a New Testament to read!

Paul and Barnabus knew that they needed to feed and strengthen these Christians:

• This word translated into English as ‘Strengthening’,

• Is a word rarely used in the New Testament,

• It has been defined as "to make more firm, to give additional strength"

• We might say "to beef up"-to add strength to what is already present.

• These new Christians have only had appetizers of truth for their nourishment;

• They now need a full-course meal to put meat on their spiritual bones.

• So Paul and Barnabas devote themselves to teaching them.

• In the New Testament we build up when we are taught the ‘Word of God’.

Ill:

• Life is a matter of building.

• Each of us has the opportunity to build something;

• A secure family, a good reputation, a career,

• A relationship to God.

• But some of those things can disappear almost overnight due to financial losses,

• Natural disasters and other unforeseen difficulties.

• What are we to do?

• Daniel Webster offered excellent advice, saying,

• "If we work on marble it will perish.

• If we work on brass, time will efface it.

• If we rear temples, they will crumble to dust.

• But if we work on men's immortal minds,

• If we imbue them with high principles,

• With just fear of God and love of their fellow-men,

• We engrave on those tablets something which time cannot efface,

• And which will brighten and brighten to all eternity”.

Consistent, biblical teaching and preaching:

• It gives substance to our faith.

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