Focal passage: Acts 15:36-41; 16:1-5
As his first term in office came to an end, President George Washington was faced with the decision of whether to seek a second term. The toll public office was taking on his health, his feeling of political inadequacy, and his desire to be at his home in Mount Vernon were all motivating factors in longing for retirement.
His plan was to relinquish the office sometime during his first term. So, why did Washington stay? He wanted to see the United States succeed. He was convinced, in part by those around him, namely Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, that his continued presence would foster both stability and strength to the newly formed Constitution.
Halfway through the book of Acts, churches have been planted but are still in their infancy. Part of God’s design is that human agents are used as a source of strength and encouragement.
That is exactly what is happening at the end of Acts 15 and into Acts 16. Paul, Silas, Barnabas, Mark and Timothy travel to these newly formed churches. Scripture does not hide the fact that there were disagreements along the way. The text says that Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement (v. 39) and eventually decided to part ways.
Yet in the midst of the confrontation, God still uses them. In His sovereign plan, He chooses to use flawed human beings, even gifting them (1 Peter 4:10), to bring about His redemptive purposes.
Verse 41 says “he [Paul] went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” In chapter 16, Paul takes on Timothy and disciples him in the faith. As they go around from church to church, God uses them to strengthen those churches as well. The same is true for you and I. In His plan, God has placed us in our churches to help make them stronger. You may be asking, how do I do that?
First, pray for your church. Pray for her growth. Pray for her leadership. Pray for her unity.
Second, be an example. Be an example of someone who uses their spiritual gifts, refuses to gossip, evangelizes the lost, faithfully serves and disciples others. If you do those things, you’ll be a source of strength and encouragement in your church.