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Missions 101

Dour and Devoid of Joy - Not the Apostles

Feb. 29, 2012By: Ben StaffordAuthor Bio

So far in this series on the motives and driving force of evangelism in the book of Acts we have discussed:

1. A profound sense of the love of Christ in one’s life

2. Love and compassion for others: sensing the desperate need of others

3. A strong sense of duty and obedience to the Great Commission

4. A strong sense that it is the right thing to do.

We have three more to go.  Perhaps no collection of motives for spreading the good news would be complete without joy. In fact, it is simply remarkable to look at the apostle’s lives: They had abundant joy.  One can hardly concoct a picture of them as dour, serious people day in and day out.  

        …and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus (Acts 5:40- 42 ESV).

        About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, (Acts 16:25 ESV)

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:48-52 ESV).

One hardly needs to add commentary to these passages.  There is joy in one’s salvation; joy in leading others to Christ; joy in the service of evangelism even in the face of persecution.

When we find darkness all around us, when we are persecuted, when all factors seem to be against us or the cause of God, what songs if any are we singing?  Can we say with the Psalmist:

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” 

If our joy is in God alone, then our joy cannot be lost or stolen no matter how many other things in our lives are lost or stolen. More than that, if our joy is in God alone, it will be a driving force in our lives for evangelism, no matter the costs. This joy cannot be manufactured. It is a fruit of the Spirit. If we abide in Him, He gives it to us.  

Ben Stafford is the Director of Short-Term Ministries, overseeing the logistics and vision of all the short-term trips as well as representing TLI to students, teachers, and other organizations. Before joining TLI, Ben was the Director of Programs at the Foundation for Economic Education where he oversaw the educational events geared towards high school and college students. His work primarily involved strategic planning, managing, and measuring the department’s resources and results, bringing the programs department to a new level. Previously, he worked as a research intern for two summers at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He still teaches students of all ages about business and economics on the side.

Ben graduated in 2008 from Hillsdale College with a degree with Economics. He enjoys real food, barefoot runs, playing classical guitar, climbing mountains, and international travel. More than all these, he echoes the sentiment of Jonathan Edwards in that God’s purpose for his life is that he have a passion for God’s glory and that he has a passion for his joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.

He currently resides in Atlanta, GA where he is actively involved with the saints at Perimeter Church.

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Tags:  acts, evangelism
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