Have you reached a point in life where you returned to a place you had already visited before?!? It could be a vacation spot, a restaurant, the home of a relative, or a stage of life. We are about to go through that this week.
One year ago, we had a high school senior. As he neared the end of his "final" year of school, he (and many others) missed out on graduation. Sure, he earned his diploma... but he never got to walk the stage and have people blow air horns, scream his name and take pictures. Well, this week, we will get ready to go through graduation (AGAIN) and return to that football stadium that he spent Friday nights at... so he will finally get to walk across the stage. His high school arranged to have a ceremony for students that missed out on this last year.
This has me think about people in the Bible who returned to places they had already been. In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas went to places like Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. God did some amazing things the first time they went through those cities, but it didn't always end well. Because of the Gospel, people were divided and mistreated them. Even tried to stone them. Later, the people thought they were gods, but some Jews came and "won the crowd over"... they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. What a homecoming!
If you're anything like me, you'd make sure you never went back to those places. Not Paul!
"But later the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city...They preached the good news in that city (Derbe) and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to [the other cities]...strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith." (Acts 14:21-22)
Sometimes, we are tempted to shy away from hard times and we definitely don't want to return there once we've made it out. If we will be willing to follow Paul (as he follows Christ), imagine what Godly work could be accomplished! Here are some ways you can help us as you pray this week:
1. Pray people will not shy away from sharing the Gospel
People got saved when Paul shared the Gospel. If he hadn't been willing to go, would that have happened? This week, pray for the disciples and leaders within our church that are sharing this. Ask God to give you opportunities to do this as well.
2. Pray people will respond to what we share
We know that not everyone will be excited about what we have to say. This is happening more and more in our world. But once we act with boldness, pray that people will hear what we say and will respond the way Paul saw people respond. We long for people to be saved, for people to be healed, for God to enable us to do signs and wonders, and for disciples to gather around each other in community. That they may be strengthened and encouraged to remain true to their faith.
Doesn't that sound like a church you'd love to be a part of? Me too!
Will you pray with us that this will happen at HighPoint Church? Me too!