Preparing My Heart
Barnabas was a discerning encourager and an encouraging teacher. The brand new church in Antioch needed such a person. But Barnabas himself had not advanced to such a level that he had no need of encouragement and help as well. Even in Christ, he just was not self-sufficient.
I want to grow much more in recognizing my own needs and in depending on others in the church. I want to be like Barnabas, who could acknowledge his own limitations and turn to a brother for help in the Lord’s work.
Making the Bible Personal
Do I allow opposition to silence the message of Jesus through me?
What response do I have to the successful service of others?
How can I do better at recognizing the grace of God in others?
When is my purposeful cleaving to the Lord threatened and weakened?
Would anyone turn to me for help and encouragement and discipling?
What do I have to offer to the church?
Reviewing Basic Truths
God’s Word always prospers when it goes forth.
The church must have a vision for discipling new believers.
We must encourage the grace of God in others’ lives.
The mutual dependence among Christians is an essential part of the Gospel.
Applying God’s Word to Me
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The devil and the Jewish leaders — what an unexpected alliance! — were busy in Jerusalem. They took out Stephen and extinguished his light. So they thought. They didn’t realize, though, that Stephen’s light was actually the light of the Lord Jesus. And that light cannot be extinguished. Instead, it spreads and strengthens, even in the face of persecution (and maybe especially then).
So the Gospel’s adversaries scattered the light all the way to Antioch, where it flared up. “And a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord” (Acts 11:21). God was at work and would not be thwarted!
The Word. Wherever they went, God’s people took God’s Word. Yes, their message was taken from and anchored in the God-breathed Scriptures, the written Word. And their message was also the God-Himself living Word, the Lord Jesus.
The Hand. God’s hand on God’s people steadied them and strengthened them and encouraged them. With His hand on them, they knew He was near and engaged, not afar and disinterested. His hand was mighty to save and keep — in that they rested.
The Grace. The grace of God in God’s people manifested itself through His people. By that grace, they were saved. By that grace, they had both the will and the power to do His will. By that grace, they were what they were.
The Spirit. The Spirit of God filling God’s people empowered them, illuminated them, comforted them, and guided them. The Holy Spirit at work in His church knit them together in love and in the bonds of peace.
The Word, the hand, the grace, the Spirit — no wonder the church grew and prospered! That was then, but now…. Do I believe God could still work in His church that way? Yes! Well, then, do I believe He could work that way in me and my home congregation? Yes! Do I believe He will? Yes, if I want Him to. I do!
This concludes my comments based on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications. To read my comments on the passage for the International Bible Lesson, click here: Mutual Ministry in Malta.