The Tough Get Going
Maintaining a healthy balance between optimism and reality is a critical component of living this life. If you’re too idealistic, you won’t survive very long in this world filled with hardship, disappointment, and sin. Yet, we don’t want to be people who see doom and gloom lurking around every corner. The same is true spiritually. Many people enter the Christian life with false expectations. They were told that trusting Jesus as their Savior would solve many, if not most, of their problems. They heard that the Christian life is abundant life, full of joy and peace. The sun is always shining, the fish are always biting, and parking lot spaces are always available. What they didn’t hear or understand is that it’s also a life of mortal combat with the enemy of our souls who have come to seek and destroy.
There are endless obstacles, challenges, and setbacks. Things do not always go as planned, and the combat intensifies when a person engages in some sort of ministry. It's important to keep all this in mind as we trace the journey of Paul throughout the rest of Acts. In chapter 13, Barnabas and Saul head off on their first missionary trip. At this point, they had very little idea what they would see and confront. They only knew that they had been set apart for this work by the Holy Spirit. At one of their early stops in Paphos, the missions team ran into a Roman government official named Sergius Paulus. He was interested in finding out more about the message Paul and Barnabas were sharing. However, his advisor, Bar Jesus, a "Jewish false prophet," was trying to turn his boss away from the truth. That's what Satan does! He is always throwing up roadblocks, traffic cones, and detour signs. Let me remind you of a truth you’ve heard me say before, Satan uses “religion” to deceive people more than anything else. Since man is a worshipper by nature, Satan diverts that inner drive from the true God to an endless array of false religious systems of which he is the author. They all have one thing in common. They tell people that salvation and a right relationship with God can be earned.
Keep in mind the following main points:
Whenever we step out for Christ, we engage the enemy
Accomplishments require determination
We are not sent to the battle alone
There is no trial or burden that is too heavy for Christ to carry! This is what separates Christians from everyone else. We have the Spirit of God and the supernatural power of God available and at work in all circumstances. Press on! Pastor Brian Richard