Sunday Mary and I arrived at Agape Fellowship in Fort Worth at 12:30 and didn’t get home until close to 7:00 PM. This was Agape’s 15th birthday, and it was time to celebrate.
Barbecue beef and pork, ham, meatballs, grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, string beans, mac n cheese, potato salad, coleslaw, peach cobbler, lemon cake, Italian cream cake—and these are only the dishes I can remember. But this was not the big meal of the day. That came when Pastor Sean Taylor brought his worship leader and choir from Euless, and from three till six Mary and I got to live in the power and enthusiasm the Spirit generates when two churches unite to celebrate.
Agape Fellowship is fifteen, St. John’s is 144 years old, and both the young church and the old church united together as one to praise Jesus. At the message time Pastor Taylor took us to Paul’s challenge to the elders in Acts 20 and spoke about the need for pastors to have a posture of humility, a proclamation that doesn’t shrink away from giving the whole counsel of God, and the perseverance to hang in there in spite of persecution.
Paul and Barnabas founded the churches in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, and though they had faced heat in each of these cities, they returned to the churches, got folks together, solidified their leadership and encouraged all the believers.
“They preached the Gospel in Derbe and many decided to follow Jesus. Then they retraced their steps back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch strengthening the hearts of the disciples, exhorting them to remain in the faith and stressing that through much persecution it’s necessary for us to enter the Kingdom of God. They appointed elders in each church, prayed with fasting, and entrusted them to the Lord, the One in whom they had believed.” Acts 14:21-23
Whether or not Agape will get to celebrate their 144th birthday like St. John’s only God knows. Here are the things I do know based on Paul and Barnabas’ return to their churches: all of our trust needs to be in God alone, our leaders must keep exhorting us and encouraging us with the whole counsel of God, and though we can count on tough opposition, Jesus totally wins in the end.
LORD, at this time in our lives, you are giving Mary and me opportunities to encourage and strengthen several young churches and some older ones. Help us not to quit because of opposition and continue to use us to bring churches like Agape and St. John’s together.
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