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.
They had begun only preaching to the Jews. But when Stephen was martyred and the Christians were persecuted, they scattered all over. Some of them began sharing their faith in Jesus with the Greeks. The Church was centered in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to check out what was happening with these new Greek Christians. He rejoiced when he saw what was happening and he encouraged them to stay faithful to Jesus.
Then Barnabas went to find Paul in Tarsus to bring him back to Antioch as well. Together they taught these new disciples and it was here that they were first called “Christians”. It had to be so exciting for them to watch the faith grow so dramatically in these early years!
The early Christians gained energy from one another. They learned from one another and encouraged one another. They knew they were never alone in this journey.
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.
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 to foster our relationship with Christ, but there is nothing more important that you will ever do in your life.
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