Acts of the apostles 11:19-26
Those who had been scattered by the persecution
that arose because of Stephen
went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch,
preaching the word to no one but Jews.
There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however,
who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well,
proclaiming the Lord Jesus.
The hand of the Lord was with them
and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem,
and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the grace of God,
he rejoiced and encouraged them all
to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart,
for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.
And a large number of people was added to the Lord.
Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch.
For a whole year they met with the Church
and taught a large number of people,
and it was in Antioch that the disciples
were first called Christians.
This reading from the Acts of the Apostles highlights is why I enjoy this book of the Bible so much. The enthusiasm of the early Christians is so contagious. They kept their focus on our Lord Jesus Christ. They encouraged one another continuously. And their numbers grew because of their efforts.
The early disciples’ lives revolved around our Lord Jesus Christ. It was their whole focus. In our busy daily lives it is so easy to lose our focus. Let us reflect on these questions:
1) How often do I think of Jesus in my daily life?
2) How often do I pray and communicate with our Lord each day?
3) How often does Jesus come up in my daily interactions with others?
The early disciples continuously encouraged one another. They went out and evangelized and then gathered together to share experiences. They gained energy from one another. They learned from one another. They knew they were never alone in this venture.
1) How often do I gather with other Christians for encouragement and inspiration?
2) Do I have friends that encourage me in my walk with Jesus?
Finally, through the actions of the disciples – their teaching, preaching and example – the number of Christians grew dramatically. St. James says, “Faith without works is dead”.
1) How often do I share my faith with others through teaching, preaching or example?
2) Are people coming to know and love our Lord Jesus through my actions?
Let us keep the same fire that burned deeply in the hearts of the early disciples. It takes time and energy, but there is nothing more important that you will ever do in your life.
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