Saturday, April 14, 2012

Acts 11:23-26

Summary retelling of Acts 11:23-26

Barnabas comes and sees the grace of God in the midst of the people in Antioch.  Barnabas gives praise to God and exhorts them to keep up the faith!  We know that he was able to sense the presence of the Holy Spirit because he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit himself.  When Barnabas came, even more people were added to the number of the Lord.  Barnabas recognizes the wonderful place of faith that Antioch is becoming, so Barnabas goes to Saul and brings him to Antioch.  Barnabas mentors Saul for a whole year while the two of them teach.  We are also told that it is in Antioch that we are first told that these people are called Christians.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Barnabas is able to see the Holy Spirit at work in the people of Antioch because he has the Holy Spirit at work in him.  It is really a neat concept – and it is true!  The more you are present with the Holy Spirit, the more you can sense the Holy Spirit in others around you.  The less the Holy Spirit is present, the more difficult it will be for you to feel the Holy Spirit.  If you don’t have the Holy Spirit within you at all, you will think those who do have the Holy Spirit to be absolutely crazy. 

Is it then all that surprising how many people sneer at the true thrust of genuine Christianity?  Given this perspective, do you really want the Holy Spirit within you?

Second Thought:
Two really cool things happen when Barnabas comes to Antioch besides his own recognition of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The church grows!  People hear his wisdom and they change their lives!  The other thing that happens is that Barnabas needs help.  And to whom does Barnabas turn?  Barnabas goes and gets Saul.  How cool is it to think that even Saul – the great apostle who comes to be known as Paul – was himself a mentee!  Every great person in God has to learn from somewhere.  And Saul was humble enough to follow.

Have you ever thought of Saul (the apostle Paul) as being a mentee?  How does this concept change how you think about Saul?  How does this apply to your own life?

Third Thought:
In the beginning, the name Christian was derogatorily used.  The suffix –ian literally meant “belonging to the (political/social) party of _____.”  Thus, by being called Christians they were not being called Romans, or Caesarians, or anything else that someone who was looking to fit in would want to be called.  It was a nickname that pointed out how much these followers of Christ didn’t fit in.  The Christians in Antioch learned to value this “degrading nickname” and embraced it.  To the people of Antioch, to be a Christian now meant “one who turned away from the sin of this world and followed the example of Jesus Christ.”

What do you think the word Christian really means today?  Do we think Christian means what the people of Antioch thought that it meant?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 11:27-30
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