“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.” Acts 14:21-22
The Book of Acts chronicles the work of the Holy Spirit in the early Church. When the disciples received the Holy Spirit, they immediately began to preach the good news of Jesus. The verses above highlight three things Paul and Barnabas did, which we can emulate.
Strengthen souls. Truth makes our souls stronger. Let us daily speak truth from God’s Word. Truths like: for my sake, the sinless Jesus became sin so that I might become righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). My old self died when Christ died, so now I live for Jesus in his power, not for myself (Galatians 2:20).
Encourage them to continue in the faith. You are reading this devotion because you want to know the only true God. Continue to seek him. Read the Bible. Pray for guidance. Trust God for all you need.
Say that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Remember, God never promised an easy life. Because of the brokenness of this world, we face trouble, pain, and grief. But by following Jesus, we find real life in his kingdom.
So, press on. There are souls to be strengthened. Like the early Christians, share how Jesus changed your life. Tell people how Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven, rose again so that we could live eternally with him, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
God, you rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into your kingdom. By the power of your Spirit may I strengthen the souls of those around me, encourage them to continue to believe in Jesus and to remind believers that these troubles are not unexpected, but part of the journey into your kingdom. Amen.