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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Verses 25-26: “He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands.”

It never fails: I’ve heard people complain when their favorite sports teams, pro or college, raise ticket prices. Seems like some prices never go back down, but always go up! Fans get enraged, film themselves burning the jersey of their team, or appear on news segments up in arms about it. However, this doesn’t seem to bother the sports teams…they make their money anyway! Many times I’ve heard that the only way to get their attention is to “hit them in the pocketbook” and refuse to buy tickets. When such organized efforts rarely happen, the owners of these teams finally sit up and take notice.

Paul, with his preaching and spreading of the Gospel in Ephesus and elsewhere, had attracted a new opposition. A man named Demetrius, a silversmith by trade, had organized a group of his fellow craftsmen together. Why? Because thanks to the spread of Christianity, the pagan worship of Diana, who had temples in Ephesus, was threatened. No temples, no silver worship articles that were made by…guess who? Yep, the local craftsmen. They were being “hit in the pocketbook”.

A quote by Mel Brooks from Blazing Saddles sums it up pretty well (and I’m referring to the edited version of the movie via ClearPlay! http://www.clearplay.org ) When he, as the bumbling Gov. William J. LePetomane, heard the request by the citizens of Rock Ridge demanding a new sheriff to combat the violence thrust upon their town, the governor declares to his cabinet members, “Gentlemen, we got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs! We gotta do something!” (paraphrased). That’s the bottom line of what Demetrius was talking about: ignoring the pagan worship, they were worried that their income was going to be severely impacted!

So what happened next? That’s a continuation…for another day!

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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 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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