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Posts Tagged ‘Barnabas’

Verses 4-6: “But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.”

Sometimes, you can read something that just reaches out and “grabs” your attention. In this passage, I found such a paragraph in my Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts, page 232. The paragraph regards versus 6-7 of Acts 14:

“The pilgrim and stranger motif throughout the New Testament begins to take incarnate form in these missionaries, now driven out of the second city on this trip. Rejected disciples who proclaimed a rejected Lord represented the New Testament standard. They stand in refreshing stark contrast to the contemporary prosperity gospel in which Christianity wants to be popular, large, influential, and wealthy. No kingdom politics or civil religion here, just the basic gospel proclaimed wherever people will listen.”

Paul and Barnabas didn’t give up and go home. They got up and went…to the next town!

Are you still going at it, fellow Christian?

Something to think about.

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Verse 51: “But they shook off the dust from their feet, against them, and came to Iconium.”

We recently completed a Carpenters for Christ mission trip to south Alabama. It was a good trip, and like many a trip, it had its share of rewards and challenges. One challenge I will not soon forget was an overabundance of…gnats! Man, from what the locals told us, we were smack in the middle of what is called the Gnat Line. Gnats are drawn to the plethora of chicken houses (and thus the chicken litter used on farms). It was no small feat to have them swarming around your head when you were working outside. Worse yet, if you didn’t close a door behind you, they’d come right behind you into whatever building you were in. I know that several of us, as we left the mission site at the mission’s conclusion, had all our truck windows rolled down so we could be sure those gnats were blown out of our vehicles…we wanted to make sure none of those gnats came north with us! We wanted no part of them!

The Jews stirred up trouble for Paul and Barnabas in the region of Antioch. They didn’t like the fact that the two delivered the Good News to the Gentiles also, and were determined to “run them out of town”. Following Jesus’s own instructions in Luke 10:11, they symbolically “shook the dust from their feet” as they departed. a footnote in my Bible states that historically, this is seen as a sign of judgment on the area that persecuted them for the Message. I’m sort of reminded of the gnats above; Paul and Barnabas, I believe, were figuratively saying, “we don’t even want the dust of your town on us as we leave!”

Be careful how you treat the Good News and the messengers who deliver it…you don’t want to be seen as a gnat, now, do you?

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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Verse 12: “Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”

Quoted directly from the Secretary of State of Missouri’s website (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/history/slogan.asp): “Why Is Missouri Called the “Show-Me” State? There are a number of stories and legends behind Missouri’s sobriquet “Show-Me” state. The slogan is not official, but is common throughout the state and is used on Missouri license plates. The most widely known legend attributes the phrase to Missouri’s U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1897 to 1903. While a member of the U.S. House Committee on Naval Affairs, Vandiver attended an 1899 naval banquet in Philadelphia. In a speech there, he declared, “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.” Regardless of whether Vandiver coined the phrase, it is certain that his speech helped to popularize the saying.”

In Willard Duncan Vandiver’s case, he was saying that “you got to show me”. He wasn’t one to take flowery speeches lightly. He had to see it to believe it.

Paul and Barnabas (and by the way, it is in verse 9 that Saul is called Paul from now on) are in Paphos and were called by the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. He wanted to hear the gospel message, but a sorcerer who was with the proconsul, Elymas by name, sought to turn the proconsul from the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul, through the power of the Holy Spirit, caused Elymas to be blind for a while. Verse 13 reads, “Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” Paulus still heard the teaching from the early church missionaries, but the miraculous blinding of the sorcerer was indeed “a clincher”, showing the power of the Holy Spirit.

How blessed it is, for those who believe by faith alone. And, yet, God still shows His miracles when they are needed…in His time.

Something to think about.

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Verse 2: “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.””

When I was a little boy, I used to love to go to my grandmother’s house. She and my mother were great cooks. When my grandmother would make her homemade cinnamon rolls, I used to love to watch how she made them. She’d roll and cut the dough, and they’d come out of the oven as these perfect circles. Sometimes though, she’d call me into the kitchen and ask me to eat one or two rolls that didn’t come out perfectly circular. Now, they didn’t taste any different, but my grandmother always set aside her best-looking cinnamon rolls as the ones to serve family and guests. She knew though that we grandkids would eat them, no matter what they looked like! We didn’t eat the ones that were set apart, until we got through “disposing” of the less-than-perfect rolls. As a matter of fact, I used to try and pull a fast one on her; I’d insist that some of the best rolls didn’t “look right, so I better eat those too.” She’d look at me, smile, and loving say, “Oh, get out of my kitchen.” :-)

The church was focused on worshipping God and fasting. The Holman Concordance on Acts, page 209, even states something more eye-catching: “Notice the climate in the congregation – worship and fasting. Not frantic activity with programs burning out everybody in the congregation. In an attitude of worship and fasting they understood the Spirit to select missionaries for God’s work.” God calls us to be holy. The definition of “holy” means “set apart”. The Holy Spirit had called Barnabas and Saul to be separated, set apart “for the work to which I have called them.”

We are called today to that same work: to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciple-makers.

Something to think about.

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Verses 27-30: “And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

In Genesis 41, we are in the middle of Joseph’s incredible journey into Egypt, as God used him in a way no one could ever see coming. Pharaoh had a dream (a vision, you could say), sent by God, and no one could interpret it. God opened the door for Joseph to be the deliverer of the vision’s meaning; a period of great harvest in the land, followed by a period of great famine. After Joseph proposed a plan of action to Pharaoh, Pharaoh made Joseph the second-most powerful leader in Egypt to head up the program to save the populace from famine.

Flash forward to today’s verse: another vision, this one given to the prophet Agabus. Again, it’s a vision of a coming famine. The disciples (after prayer and discussion, I’m sure) determined to send relief; what we would call a “love offering” today. This gift would help the home church back in Jerusalem.

The story of Joseph came to mind when I read the above verses; here are some parallels from both stories that God revealed to me, that are true today:
1. God does give advance warning of future events, if we are listening. In both cases, God gave visions of the upcoming famines. To coin an old idiom, “forewarned is forearmed”. Like the recent tornado outbreaks we’ve had, the first thing we did was turn on the television, and get the information from the local weatherman as to where the storm may go…this allowed us to be ready. However, we had to listen and to pay attention to the signs (the forecast predictions). The messenger may be different, but God is in control.
2. God provides a way out of trouble. If anyone could echo this statement’s truth, it was Joseph! Seems our problem today is, we sometimes don’t want to use God’s “escape plan”, due to selfish reasons or stubborn pride. However, that doesn’t deny that the way out is there.
3. God uses His people to be part of the rescue. In Genesis, it was Joseph. In Acts here, it was a gift from Antioch to Jerusalem. Today, God uses those who are willing to be used by Him, to be part of the solution, not the problem.

Just as in the past, so it is in the present, and true even in the future. God is in control.

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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