We continue our journey in the book of Acts this morning in Acts 11:19 Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen's death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. 20 However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21 The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord. Notice once again the lines drawn in the sand by the divisional walls of religion but Father God always has the last say. Where some are unwilling to travel, God will raise up others to go. I love verse 20, it’s what the church is supposed to be about…believers telling the lost about the good news of Jesus and verse 21 declares that the POWER of the LORD was with them and many Gentiles got saved. We are not called to change anyone but we are all called/chosen to be a vessel that will GO and TELL. If we will GO then Father God will do His part in drawing the lost to Him, He only needs vessels to go and speak through. One of my favorite thoughts is this, if God can use a donkey and a rooster, then HE will use ME if I will be willing to go in obedience.
22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God's blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.
Jerusalem quickly became the hub of spiritual authority and oversight in the church Jesus had established so they sent one of their leaders (Barnabas) to give oversight to what was happening and he was filled with excitement and joy as he saw what God was doing among the Gentiles. In Hebrew, the name Barnabas means- Son of consolation or son of exhortation, son of comfort, he was gifted to encourage the believers. The church today needs more people in the body encouraging, we all need to develop the gift of being an encourager.
24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
Friends, may we all strive to have the same report told about us but not from us. It’s important to know what others feel about us but at the same time remembering what God knows about us is of the upmost importance. If we are full of the Holy Spirit then it should be said about us, they are a good person and they are strong in faith. You can never be full of the Holy Spirit and continue to have an ugly spirit about you. The Holy Spirit changes you from the inside out.
25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)
Discipleship takes time but Jesus told us to go make disciples not just converts. For fifty two weeks these two men of God taught the new believers and I believe they were having not just weekend meetings but meetings throughout the week as they learned more and more about Jesus. Friends, we all need to know more about the Word of God and to experience the presence of the Lord. Hunger, along with humility, is two key ingredients for personal spiritual growth. We must guard against spiritual complacency which leads to personal compromise (in our daily spiritual disciplines such as prayer, word, communion, etc.) which leads us to living a life of being spiritually cold. Fellowship and bible study with each other in the body of Christ will help keep a fire burning in our spiritual lives.
27 During this time some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.) 29 So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could. 30 This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem. NLT
The early church was a body of believers who relied on the supernatural power and knowledge of the Holy Spirit to lead them in their daily activities. We must all become more sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit in every area of our daily lives. The gifts of the Spirit are for all of us and to be in operation in our daily lives as we bring the full gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost, dying and hurting world.
Prayer Points: Father, help us be led by the Holy Spirit like the early church and give us a greater desire to grow and mature in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.