God's Active Grace
Today I pray for goodness and greatness for our nation. May Your vision for us be reaffirmed by our leaders.
Read Acts 11:19-30
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
One of the most significant gifts we can give others is the ministry of encouragement to those in physical, emotional, personal and spiritual distress.
Every stage in the development of the church so far has been through people appointed to office. Now the Spirit takes control of a group of Jewish diaspora Christians driven away from Jerusalem by persecution. They do not need a special vision like Peter, nor does there seem to be detailed debate about whether they should share the gospel message with Gentiles, although they had never known anyone who had done that. They proclaim Jesus as Lord, and Luke notes that the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number turned to the Lord. Once more it is made clear that Jesus is working to establish his church.
What do you do when you hear that something strange and new has happened? The church at Jerusalem recognized that they must not rely on reports from others but should make their own inquiry into what has happened. They chose their delegate wisely: someone they could trust, but who also had a shared background with some of those he was going to investigate—the people from Cyprus. An objective appraisal of something new that God is doing needs to be carried out by someone who hasn’t already made his mind up. Barnabas knew what to look for—the active grace of God. Too many of us look for faults and problems before we notice God’s grace.
The transformation of pagans, and their unity with Jewish believers in one Christian church is helped by clear teaching. Barnabas and Saul devoted a whole year to establishing these people in their new faith. One significant sign of God’s work was the congregation’s reaction to the news of the impending famine that they knew would affect Jerusalem. For former pagans to care about Jews they had never met was a sure sign that God’s grace was active in their lives.
Is anyone ever likely to call you a Barnabas because you are a great encourager? Who could you encourage today or this week?
Lord, I know how much I appreciate being encouraged by others. Enable me to be like Barnabas, sharing hope and grace with those around me.
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