The human heart is always looking for conquest. There is always the prospect of a higher summit dangling tantalisingly just out of reach towards which the human mind aspires. Petronius Arbiter, a Roman courtier during the reign of Nero put it like this:
Describing the Roman thirst for conquest he said “the conquering Roman had the whole world in his hand, the sea, the land, the course of the stars. But still, he wanted more”. It is a succinct summary of the human condition.
Always wanting more. Always reaching for something better that seems to be just beyond our grasp. The early church was filled with this same spirit. A deepening hunger to explore and conquer new frontiers in the name of Jesus.
At the very height of its success, when the fledgling church had thousands of members scattered throughout Jerusalem, Judea and the surrounding regions, God called Paul, who was earlier known as Saul, and Barnabas to forge ahead and break new barriers and forge new frontiers.
In Acts 13:2 (NKJV) the Bible says, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me, Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’”. Immediately the church prayed over the two men and sent them on their way.
It was their first missionary journey. A rough, gruelling trek, stepping into territories that had yet to hear the name of Jesus or understand what He had done for humanity on the cross. The voyage was anything but uneventful.
From bewildering spiritualism on the Island of Cyprus to the near-death experience in Lystra and then the stoning in Iconium, Paul and Barnabas battled through one challenge after another, undeterred and undaunted, always keeping their goal firmly in place.
By the time they got back home, they had gathered enough memories to last a lifetime but more importantly, they had introduced the story of salvation through Jesus to thousands of men and women across a large swath of the Roman frontier.
Their success was not so much dependent on their oratory accomplishments or their intellectual brilliance, though Paul was armed with both. Their success was dependent on two simple factors; prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We live in a world that is facing unique and unprecedented upheaval. Recovering from a global crisis sends shockwaves through every aspect of our lives. It is a time when each of us needs to conquer new frontiers, frontiers that will enable us to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Whatever new frontiers we are forced to breach; whether it is learning a new skill so we can find new employment, adjusting to working from home or a new environment, adjusting to social isolation, the Bible tells us that there is really only one way to be successful.
The human heart may long for more, the human heart may be resilient in the face of change, but success only comes from God. In order to survive and thrive in a crisis, we need to take a page out of Paul’s book.
When he conquered obstacles in his path he did so through the power of prayer and the agency of the Holy Spirit. In Psalm 32:8 God tells us “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye”.
And 1 Peter 5:7 says “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” If you find yourself struggling to face the new frontiers before you then remember to reach out to God for help. Look to Him for instruction, lay your burdens at His feet and you will find rest for your soul and strength to overcome.
If you would like to find out more about relying on God and the power of prayer, if you’d like to have Him beside you as you forge new frontiers, as well as His guidance as we’re preparing for Christ’s soon return, then I’d like to recommend the free Bible study guide we have on offer today. It’s entitled, When Jesus Comes For You.