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Posts Tagged ‘Antioch’

Verse 27: “Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”

1 of 2 things always happens when you get back from a trip (sometimes even both things):

1. Everyone is always asking how your trip was: what did you see? who did you meet? Anything interesting happen? got any pictures? Everybody wants a report of what you encountered.
2. Even if no one asks, you’re still anxious to tell folks what happened…the good times, the interesting things, even bad things that happened, oh, and don’t forget the photos! (In my day, we had to endure the carousel of…photo slides…from trips!)

So that was also in common with Paul and Barnabas’s first missionary trip. Boy, what a trip! Even where Paul and Barnabas had encountered resistance (Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch) they still swung back by to strengthen the disciples there and help set up elders in each church. They went through Derbe, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia, and then back home. If Paul and Barnabas had carried suitcases like you and I are used to, they’d be covered in stickers of all the places they visited (at least, that’s what we used to do in my day.) In this case, both things happened when they returned to Antioch: the church wanted to hear how their journey went, and Paul and Barnabas were eager to give their report.

This wouldn’t be the first “road trip” for these two, but it left a lasting impression on the spread of the Gospel in the early years of Christianity.

So…do you have a report to give about witnessing for Jesus? Or is it time to get busy?

Something to think about.

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Verses 19-20: “Then the Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”

Years ago, there appeared on television a reunion movie of the old series, The Wild Wild West. It was called The Wild Wild West Revisited. The central plot concerned agents Jim West and Artemus Gordon (played by Robert Conrad and Ross Martin); they were called out of retirement to combat the threat of the son of their greatest arch-enemy, Dr. Miguelito Loveless (played originally by the brilliant Michael Dunn). Dr. Miguelito Loveless Jr. (played wonderfully by Paul Williams) was trying to replace the world’s leaders with robot duplicates that he would control; he had even created the first “atomic bomb” as part of his arsenal.

During the pursuit of the main plot, there always appeared the same young gunslinger, who was trying to challenge the shooting talents of West. This guy was more comic villainy than real threat: West threw his guns away once, then on another occasion, Gordon tripped him up and subdued him. Towards the very end of the movie, as Jim and Artie were making their way towards their famous train to leave, here he came again (“go for your guns, Mr. West!”) Artie was so tired of this he actually said, “Oh no, not again! Look, I’ve had enough, you take care of this!” as he sat down on a bench. Jim walked deliberately toward him, sternly saying “give me your gun!” The gunslinger bewilderedly replied, “You’re not going to throw them away again, are you?” “No, I’m not”, Jim said. Taking the gun, he pointed it at a saloon’s sign across the street; never taking his eye off the gunslinger, he said, “Now, watch.” West then fanned the gun at high speed, striking every light atop the saloon sign, without taking his eyes off the young man. Stupefied, the young gunslinger took the gun back as West handed it to him; West calmly said, “Now…do you REALLY want to draw on me???” “Uh…no sir, no sir!” said the gunslinger. “Good.” West replied; “now, why don’t you find yourself a nice girl and settle down.” Looking at him wearily he added, “and leave me alone.” With that West and Gordon walked off to their train and the end of the movie.

The relentless pursuit of the young gun after West was done for comic relief, but there was nothing comical about the relentless pursuit of the Jews after Paul and Barnabas. They actually travelled all the way from Antioch and Iconium just to stick their noses in the missionaries’ ministry in Lystra! They got the crowd riled up enough to stone Paul; thinking him dead, they dragged him outside of the city. Paul, though, was not dead (although you’d be unconscious too from a bunch of rocks being beaned off of you!). He went back into the city, and left with Barnabas the next day to go to Derbe.

Christianity is still opposed today; sometimes just as violently (if not more so) then back then. There will always be those who oppose the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ Himself even told the disciples as much when He walked on this planet. But like the disciples of long ago, we can’t give up; we have our hope and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, and we know in the end, He wins! In the meantime, keep on keeping on, with the Good News.

Something to think about.

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Verses 45-47: “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'””

Isn’t it kind of special when you are privy to news before it’s “officially” announced? Such as when expectant parents tell you of the baby they are going to have, or someone gets a very nice promotion at work? It can be equally disheartening when you are the last one to find out anything! When news of a change is announced, and your close confidants tell you “yes, I already knew”, you feel left out.

Paul and Barnabas had just spoken of the Good News at Antioch. Some who heard the news encouraged them to speak again of it. Word spread quickly about these men and their message. But when the Jews, who God had appointed as His chosen people in the Old Testament, saw that Gentiles were present to hear the second preaching of the Good News…they got offended. Paul and Barnabas were quick to point out that, although the Jews got to hear it first, the Good News of Jesus Christ was for ALL people. No one would be able to say, “nobody told me!”

Something to think about.

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Verses 25-26: “Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

“I know a guy.”

That’s what Dr. Hank Pym said when wondering how to retrieve his shrinking technology from Darren Cross in the movie Ant-Man. It’s also what the Falcon tells Captain America when they are trying to figure out who can help them with the captured Winter Soldier in the post-credits scene of the same movie (they weren’t sure about contacting Tony Stark, or even if they could contact him, at all).

“I know a guy.”

That’s what the Falcon said; he and Pym were both referring to Scott Lang, the Ant-Man. He was just the perfect person they needed for the situation.

“I know a guy.”

That’s not exactly what Barnabas said, but he was probably thinking along those lines. Having seen the young church at Antioch, Barnabas knew they needed instruction and teaching. And who better than his close friend and brother-in-Christ, Saul? (by the way, don’t let the last sentence of verse 26 slip by you….the first calling of the believers as “Christians”!) Barnabas travelled to Tarsus, got Saul, and they both travelled back to Antioch, thus spending a year teaching the congregation.

That same Jesus that Saul (later Paul) and Barnabas told the Antioch believers more about, is the same Jesus who died on the cross, was buried, and rose again the third day to ascend to Heaven, and is our only way to salvation, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Do I really need to repeat that first statement again? 🙂

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Verses 23-24: “When he [Barnabas] came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.”

I once heard a story about a young woman and a young man who had fallen in love and gotten married. She had a beautiful singing voice, and he was a talented music teacher. The young man tutored his young wife in training her voice, but the music teacher was a perfectionist, and was often negatively critical. After much scolding and rebuking by the husband during his lessons, the wife’s singing voice seemed to suffer. Even more, she began to lose the joy she had taken in singing, and it showed in her voice.

Eventually, the music teacher passed away of a heart attack. After grieving and getting used to life as a widow, the woman met another man, and they fell in love and married. He was an avid lover of music, though not professionally trained or formally schooled. When he found out his new wife had a singing voice, he coaxed her into singing again. Fearful at first, she sang for him; unlike her first husband, the second man was helpful and supportive. If he gave any criticism at all, it was positive and constructive, always bolstered by his reassurance of how beautiful her voice was. He continued to help her in training her voice; he wasn’t a professional, but his helping and loving assistance helped her regain her confidence. Before long, the woman returned to singing in public with the full joy in her voice that she used to have.

Sometimes, the only “help” someone needs is just a measure of encouragement…of someone telling you that they believe in you and in what you are doing. Barnabas’s own name meant “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). The church at Antioch was new, and its believers were eager and sincere; still, any group starting in a new opportunity needs reassurance, and that is why Barnabas was there; to help lead and to help encourage this bold new church, and to fan the flame of Christianity in this north African locale.

We always remember fondly the people who encourage us. My oldest son had a “difficult” teacher in 2nd grade that didn’t know how to handle his personality. As a result, she isolated him from the rest of the class, which really hurt his spirit. God blessed us with a great 3rd grade teacher, though, who worked with my son, to bring out his joy in school and to successfully help him with inter-personal relationships with his classmates. He began to enjoy school again and do well. She was a modern-day Barnabas to us and to a lot of children that came through her 3rd grade class.

Is God calling you to be a modern-day Barnabas to someone who needs a little…encouragement?

Happy Easter!

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