Sunday: Acts 14:21
v21: Luke does not mention any opposition in Derbe. He simply said they evangelized the city, and then after having made many disciples, one of whom may have been Gaius of Derbe (Ac 20:4), they turned around and retraced their steps, passing through Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch. Had they continued eastward, they would have again crossed the Taurus mountains (Ac 13:14), only this time at a place called the Cilician Gates, and the road would have led them to Tarsus, Pauls hometown. This would have been, by far, the shorter route back to Antioch in Syria, the place where their journey had started. So the decision to return home by the way they came was not based on their own convenience or safety. People had come to Christ in each of these cities, but Paul and Barnabas had been forced to leave before properly preparing them to face the inevitable hardships their faith would bring.
Monday: Acts 14:22
v22: So, putting their own lives at risk, they went back to reinforce (prop up) these new believers. They strengthened their souls by encouraging them to remain true to the faith they had been taught and by warning them to expect persecution. They said it would be necessary for them to pass through many afflictions before they entered into the kingdom of God. In their case, entering the kingdom of God must refer to the moment when their exposure to the evil of this present fallen age would end and they would enter the safety of Gods presence. In practice this takes place either at death, when we step across into eternal life (1Th 4:13-18), or at the return of Jesus Christ to set up His government on the earth, bringing His resurrected followers with Him (2Th 1:4-10). Such knowledge helped them endure by giving them a spiritual perspective on what was happening to them.
Tuesday: Acts 14:23
v23: In each city, after preparing themselves by prayer and fasting, the apostles hand-picked elders to lead the church. Exactly how these leaders were selected is not described here, but we need only observe the process involved in sending out Barnabas and Saul from Antioch in Syria (Ac 13:2, 3) to recognize that prophetic listening must have been a major part of the way this was done. In whatever manner this took place, its clear they were asking God to reveal His will. In his letters to Timothy and Titus, Paul lists character qualities and gifting needed by anyone who was a candidate for appointment as an elder (1Ti 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Then, in what must have been a gathering at which all members were present, Paul and Barnabas solemnly committed them, elders and members, into the care of the Lord in whom they had believed (Php 1:6; 2Ti 1:12). Though the apostles were about to leave them, Jesus their Lord would never leave, and ultimately it was His faithful care that would carry them through the trials and temptations that lay ahead.
Wednesday: Acts 14:24-26
vs24-25: From Pisidian Antioch the apostles went south, back through the treacherous Taurus mountain range (Ac 13:14), to the coastal plain called Pamphylia. This time they did not bypass its major city, Perga, but spoke the word there before going to Attalia, the harbor, twelve miles away. There they found a ship headed back to Antioch in Syria bringing their first missionary journey to an end. v26: When he mentions Antioch in Syria, Luke repeats a word that he had just used in verse 23, and I believe he did so to show us a profound truth.
Thursday: Acts 14:26
v26 (continued): He has just told us that Paul and Barnabas committed (placed beside) to the Lord the disciples in these Galatian cities (Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Pisidian Antioch). Now, using this same word, he reminds us that Paul and Barnabas had themselves been committed to the grace of God by the Antioch church, for the work which they accomplished (fulfilled). In this way he shows us that the Lords care for His Church was being multiplied. What had been done for these apostles, they then did for the disciples they made on their journey, and I think he wants us to see that those new disciples would be expected to do the same thing for those they brought to the Lord. Those who had been committed to Jesus care committed to Jesus care those they led to Him, who would, in turn commit to Jesus care those they led, etc. In other words, beneath all the human activity, it is ultimately Jesus who is building and upholding His Church.
Friday: Acts 14:27-28
v27: When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch the whole church assembled to hear the report of what God had done on their missionary journey. Undoubtedly, they told stories of miracles and of people who came to Christ, along with descriptions of the persecutions they faced and how the Lord rescued them out of them all (2Ti 3:11). But there would have been one silent testimony in those meetings no one could ignore: the scars all over Paul (Ga 6:11). Theyd sent out a man who had been whole in his body and now received back a man who had been stoned. While they must have rejoiced in the glorious reports of how God opened a door of faith to the nations, the sobering cost of opening that door stood in front of them. v28: Luke concludes by saying
they wore away not a little time with the disciples (literal). Though he doesnt tell us how long this was, these missionaries would have needed time to heal, physically and emotionally, from the hardships they had endured.
Saturday: Acts 15:1
v1: And some men going down from Judea taught the brothers that unless you are circumcised by the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved (literal). The Antioch church had become the center of outreach to Gentiles. They had successfully put behind them the issue of fellowship between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. They were now aggressively moving forward to evangelize Gentiles in other regions. Yet, many in the churches of Jerusalem and Judea were still struggling with the idea of fellowshipping with Gentiles whose only claim to being ceremonially clean was their faith in Jesus Christ (Ac 11:1-18).