July 20, 2021 - Acts 11:19-30
Christian life is exciting and has an energy that grows as people gather together and are excited about the work of the Holy Spirit in the local church. As we are sensitive to the work of the Spirit, He directs us in our daily activities, prayers are answered in our lives as well as our churches, and excitement grows in our relationship with Him.
Persecution had driven believers away from Jerusalem. Believers spread throughout the region proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel to just the Jews (v.19). These believers spread through Judea, Samaria, Cyprus and northward until they reached Antioch. Then some began to share the gospel to non-Jews and the church grew rapidly in this pagan city. News came back to the Jerusalem church of this development, so they sent Barnabas to investigate this rapid growth.
Barnabas was a deacon that had been selected by the church in chapter six. Like Stephen he was a man of action and demonstrated his allegiance to the Lord. He is characterized as a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith (v.24). It appears that as he surveyed the church at Antioch for the elders at Jerusalem, he also assisted the work and ministry in this new church. During Barnabas' stay, the growth of the church grew to the point that they needed additional leaders.
Soon Barnabas departs this region, and I believe he received the leadership's blessing to go north to Tarsus. There he finds a man, Saul, who has not been mentioned for two chapters in Acts and probably several years had elapsed throughout this time (9:31). Barnabas brings Saul to teach and educate the truths of Christianity to new believers of many different cultures! Together they instruct these new believers for the next year (v.26) in becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Lord knows the perfect combination of personalities and skillsets necessary for teams to effectively work and grow in ministry. Saul had been called to minister to the Gentiles, he was a skilled student of the word and an expert debater and communicator. Barnabas was an encourager and a man full of the Holy Spirit. Together they forged a relationship that allowed Saul to develop and sharpen his tools for the work God had for him.
At times, the Lord allows us to be placed in the background until the proper time our talents, gifts and ministries align for the task He has prepared for us to accomplish. The Lord sometimes removes us from exciting moments of His work to meet an individual (8:26), at times He places us in remote areas for growth (9:30), and sometimes He calls us to use the gifts and talents He provides for a new ministry.
We learn from Acts that trusting the Lord is the best course for a believer's life. Renew that understanding and commitment regardless of where the Lord has you currently. Who knows, it might change today!