O Savior, abide with us: fast falls the eventide; the shadow deepens, with us abide. Hold your cross before our closing eyes this night and let us rest assured that no one will harm us if you are by our side. As the sun sets on yet another day, your reign has no end. In many nations and many tongues your praise has been sung this day. Continue to strengthen your Church, that we may be your faithful witnesses and continue to tell the amazing story of your love for all the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Daily Archives: May 5, 2021
Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Acts 12:24-13:5 (ESV)
24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.
Barnabas and Saul Sent Off
13 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Barnabas and Saul on Cyprus
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.
Think for a minute about how things grow. Whether they are plants, animals, or people, growth happens in stages, not all at once. That’s true with the church. The initial growth spurt happened in Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles, and thousands came to faith in Jesus. Then, the number of believers grew day by day as they were convinced by the truth and power of the gospel message.
After that, however, the early church began to experience a dry season. Stephen was killed, and a great persecution arose. The faith continued to spread, because its roots were strong, but it took more work. The believers who fled the persecution went to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch and preached to the Jews there, laboring mightily to establish new churches. In Antioch, some began to preach to Gentiles as well as Jews. And it’s here in Antioch that we find Barnabas and Saul (Paul), working for an entire year to establish a church in a new, precarious situation.
Thanks to the stable presence of these two apostles, the church in Antioch gradually grew in maturity. In fact, it was here that they were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). But the Holy Spirit wasn’t finished with Barnabas and Paul, and they ended up leaving Antioch to initiate another phase of growth: deliberate missionary work throughout the Mediterranean Basin.
Just as there were stages of growth for the early church, there are stages of growth in the church today. God has called the church today to minister and witness to the Gospel in a very peculiar world – a world that is becoming more and more secular. He is calling the church to stand as a faithful witness AGAINST culture, rather than be in bed with culture. I know this may sound harsh, but when the church becomes too friendly with culture, she forgets her identity and her witness becomes impotent. The church needs to know we live in an age of great opportunity, but we must not sell ourselves out. God can still move and desires to move through the church today, but we need to be faithful to the Head, Jesus, following his ways and Word.
From age to age, God is always unfolding new and promising opportunities for the Gospel. Where is he leading you today?