When I pastored, one of the most exciting and encouraging services was the gathering of believers right after our mission teams returned from their trips. Whether it was teenagers and adults returning from evangelizing in Colombia, Ed and Coralee Murray returning from Eastern Europe, Dave and Cindy Cox from Brazil, or Lee and Teca Moura taking a break from their pastoral responsibilities at Igreja Batista do Morumbi in Sao Paulo to reconnect in Midlothian where they had served, the atmosphere was electric as we heard what the Spirit had done.
It concerns me that some contemporary churches are becoming so formatted that missionaries returning from their assignments can barely get five minutes in the Sunday morning service. Check out how Luke reports on the return of Paul and Barnabas to the Antioch Church that sent them.
“And passing through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia, and after speaking the Word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch. They were now back where they had been committed to God’s grace for the work, the work they had completed. On their arrival they called together the church and reported on what God had done through them. They reported on how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Then for a long time they spent time together with their fellow Christ followers.” - Acts 14:24=28
Can’t you feel the excitement in this church family as Paul and Barnabas share about their trip, and the extended recuperation time they had with their brothers and sisters?
Remember one of the goals of Truth Encounter is to give you the tools to understand and live in the narrative from Genesis to Revelation. This means helping you learn to track what the biblical authors are doing as they tell the Story. So as Luke completes his description of the first church mission trip (a section he started in Acts 13:1), how does he close this episode and how does he lead us into the major conflict that is going to explode in chapter 15?
LORD, help me never to become so programmed and focused on my own plans that I don’t have time to gather with your children and hear fresh reports about how the Word of Grace is transforming lives, especially those in other counties. Use this Devo to raise up church leaders who will follow the example of the Antioch Church on how to treat returning missionaries in home churches.
For a good map of Paul’s first missionary journey. http://markmeynell.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/acts-13-14-map.png
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