May 20, 2019
Acts 11:19-26 New Life Version (NLV)
Encouragement is a great gift from the Lord to His Church. We all need encouragement in our faith if we are going to grow up into Christ. We start as new believers and we look forward toward the maturity that God’s Spirit brings about in our lives. True spiritual teachers are those who press us forward into maturity by encouraging us to trust and obey the Word of God while we love others. Every Christian should be a source of encouragement for his or her brothers and sisters in the faith. As we share our testimonies and reveal our experiences with God, it causes our faith to grow and broadens our view of the Gospel.
Peter’s testimony to the church leaders in Jerusalem that God was saving the Gentiles, caused the good news to flourish in Antioch. Many people came to Christ. God even used the persecution of believers in Jerusalem to spread the Gospel, because the believers headed out to other countries. The life of God went with the believers and that life created more life wherever the believers went. It was during this time, believers everywhere began to share their life experiences in Christ with others. It was in Antioch where the first Gentile church was founded and the term Christians or “Christ-ones” was used. Barnabas, an encourager, came and began teaching the new believers how to live in this new life they had been given in Christ. Even though the believers were from different races, cultures, and spoke different languages, Barnabas taught them about all they actually shared in common in Christ. This diversity of people sharing a unity of faith caused the church to increase.
Acts 11:19-26 The Followers Are Called Christians First In Antioch
19 Those who went different places because of the trouble that started over Stephen had gone as far as the cities of Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch. They had preached the Word, but only to the Jews. 20 Some of the men from Cyprus and Cyrene returned to Antioch. They preached the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Greek people there. 21 The Lord gave them power. Many people put their trust in the Lord and turned to Him.
22 The news of this came to the church in Jerusalem. They sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he got there and saw how good God had been to them, he was full of joy. He told them to be true and faithful to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And many people became followers of the Lord.
25 From there Barnabas went on to the city of Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found Saul, he brought him back with him to Antioch. For a year they taught many people in the church. The followers were first called Christians in Antioch.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the diversity we find in ourselves and yet the harmony of Spirit we can share. Keep me focused on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of my faith as I join with brothers and sisters to proclaim Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.