Body: Read Acts 11:19-30 4. The Church at Antioch. In this section of the book of Acts the scene shifts to those who were scattered because of the persecution. The scattered believers shared the good news about Jesus, wherever they went.
Barnabas was sent to confirm and nurture the ministry. He worked with Saul. There was a prophecy of famine, and the disciples decided to send some relief, by way of Barnabas and Saul.
Applications – - Witnessing in spite of persecution. Notice in vss. 19-21 of this section of the book of Acts that being a faithful Christian doesn’t exempt you from persecution.
First, we should strive to be faithful Christians. Included in this idea is taking the word of God with us, wherever we go. It means being in partnership with other believers.
Second, we should brace ourselves for persecution. Persecution and negative situations can come in many different forms – relational, financial, health, and even psychological.
Third, the hand of the Lord is not limited to our comfort zone. Wherever we trust God, God is able to take care of His own. God can keep us, even when we want Him to deliver us, now. God is able to confirm His will.
Let’s work on trusting God everywhere we go, no matter how difficult our situations may become.
- Communicating, being sendable, being glad, and encouraging. Notice in vss. 22-23 of the book of Acts several things.
First, there was communication in the body of Christ. Too often our churches fail to do the best that they can in communicating, and it results in the church being less effective than it could be in ministering to the needs of people.
Second, Barnabas was sendable. In order for the church to minister to the needs of people, there is a great need for sendable people. Sendable people need to have demonstrated Christian character and compentency.
Third, Barnabas was glad to see the evidence of the grace of God. Too many people are not glad, when they see God doing great things beyond what they are used to seeing. Too many are more concerned with traditions than with divine transformations.
Fourth, Barnabas encouraged the people to remain true to the Lord with all of their hearts. It is not difficult to be a Christian for a few hours on Sunday.
But the call of God is for us to remain faithful to Him 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This kind of faithfulness calls for a whole heartedness and commitment to the Lord, which is different than simply being committed to a person or program.
Let’s work on communicating, being sendable, being glad, and encouraging people to stay with the Lord. Our churches would be so much more impactful, if more people lived by this section of the teaching.
- Teaching. Notice in vss. 25-26 of the book of Acts that Barnabas and Saul worked together in the teaching ministry. First, teaching is so important. Yes, we ought to feel something in the worship experience.
Yes, we should do service after the worship experience. However, we need teaching to know what we are shouting about and what kind of service we should do for the Lord.
Second, there is a great need for teachers who are willing to teach as a part of the team. The lack of teachers who are willing to teach is made even worst when some of those who are willing to teach will not teach as part of the team.
For example, in Sunday School, teachers need to work around the common knowledge found in the Sunday School material, including the Pastor’s notes. This sort of teaching nurtures the oneness of knowledge that God wants in His church (see Eph. 4:11-13).
However, when teachers go about to do their own things then anything is subject to happen. Third, no matter how great the teachers may be, there will be no teaching without students. Every believer should be a regular Bible study student.
Let’s work on demonstrating that we understand the importance of teaching, by both being in the teaching sessions and being open to God using us as teachers.
Furthermore, let us hasten the day when the church is known for teaching a variety of courses that are responsive to the needs of the students (e.g., financial literacy, healthy living, marriage enrichment, parenting, blended family issues, sandwich generation issues, etc.).
- Preparing for famines. Notice in vss. 27-28 of the book of Acts that famine was prophesied. All though most conservative Christians would be skeptical of someone claiming to prophesy today, all of us should be able to see that famine or difficult times are likely for all of us.
It may be a financial famine or a relational famine or even a health famine. Therefore, we should work on famine preparations.
For example, in the area of finances, we would do well to work on earning high, spending low, investing, and pass wealth on to responsible people. In the area of health, we would do well to eat healthy foods in health portions and exercise.
Let’s work on doing what we can to be prepared for famines in our lives.
- Giving. Notice in vss. 29-30 of the book of Acts that the disciples decided to send some help to their brothers who were in need. Being a real Christian has much to do with loving people. Loving people means responding to the needs of people.
In some instances, responding to the needs mean sending some money, based on our abilities. Love gives. Think about John 3:16’s teaching us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
Let’s work on being a giving people. Our church reports and displays should be filled with information on how we have helped people and filled with “thank you” notes from those who have been blessed.
Conclusion: Let’s work on being witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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