God’s power at work in the ministry of Paul and Barnabas was significant! While in the city of Iconium, they preached the gospel in the Jewish synagogue, as was their custom when they went into any town. They preached in such a manner that a great multitude of both Jews and Greeks believed! As a result, the unbelieving Jews spoke against Paul and Barnabas and generated controversy.
The purpose of the controversy was to discredit Paul and Barnabas, to plant fear in their hearts, and, ultimately, to prevent them from continuing to preach the gospel. Fear is the enemy’s chief weapon. If he can instill fear in us on our walk of faith, he will prevent us from fulfilling the will and purpose of God. That is why Paul makes sure he reminds Timothy in his second letter, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” If we believe these assurances of God’s provision, even in the face of the enemy’s taunts and threats to the contrary, we will fulfill the assignments given to us by God.
Despite the controversy, Paul and Barnabas stayed in Iconium. Perhaps many of us would not have done that, but Paul and Barnabas were not swayed by the danger or the controversy and remained there for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord. Many today would have left the city and the work. However, Paul and Barnabas had great faith in God, and, because God is faithful and rewards faithfulness, God backed up their preaching with signs and wonders.
Paul and Barnabas were so bold in the Lord that they returned to Iconium to strengthen the disciples. They encouraged them to continue serving God by exhorting them. Many people do not want to hear that trouble is part of the believer’s journey, preferring to hear only of blessings and financial prosperity. However, in John chapter 4, Jesus said to his disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.” May that be the attitude of our hearts in these days!
Let’s purpose within our hearts to do the will of God wherever and whenever he sends us. In doing so, let’s trust the power of God to be present with us in whatever situations we may find ourselves and may our lives demonstrate God’s glory.