Scripture: Acts 13:42 As Paul and Barnabas were going out (from the synagogue in Antioch), the people urged them to speak about (the gospel of Jesus) again the next sabbath. 43 When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
Observation: Paul and Barnabas initially focused on sharing the gospel with fellow Jews. And, indeed, many received their teaching and became Christians – but many didn’t. In fact the greater their success in sharing the good news, the greater the opposition from Jewish leaders. However what surprised everyone, including Paul and Barnabas, was the success they had with Gentiles. Thus began for Paul a lifetime of fruitfulness in reaching the Gentiles for the Lord. But to be clear – their effectiveness in preaching was not because of their amazing oratory skills. They were effective because the Spirit of the living God worked through them to bring people to Christ.
Application: It’s such a common problem. The Lord has a job for us, but we fail to engage because we’re insecure about our abilities. We read stories like our passage for today and tell ourselves that Paul and Barnabas must have been exceptional. They must have had “mad skillz” (a term I heard a teenager use recently) straight out of the womb. How else can you explain their tremendous success among the Gentiles?
While I understand the logic, I don’t believe it to be true. I don’t believe their success can be attributed to any human element, but to the power of the living God to use normal people for his purposes. God can use just about anyone to do just about anything according to his will and purposes. Even you.
Which leads me to an important question: How is your personal insecurity keeping you from accomplishing the job the Lord God has for you?
Prayer: Gracious God, give us grace that we might fix our gaze on you. Keep us from being paralyzed by our personal insecurities. Give us confidence to live as if we have your favor with us whenever we act for the sake of your Kingdom. Because we do. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.