First Words 8-29-22
19 “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. 22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he 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.
(Acts 11:19-23 NKJV)
Notice verse 21: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord”. The mission of the church never changes: To Reach The Lost And Disciple The Saved. The mission of the church is not determined by boards or committees. The mission of God’s Church was given to the Church by Christ Himself: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel”. The message of the Spirit empowered New Testament Church was Jesus. The mission and message is non-negotiable. People change. Culture changes. Methods change… but, the mission and message of God’s Church are forever the same.
Verse 23 makes reference to Barnabas. Barnabas was known as the Encourager. How we need to be people of encouragement. People are stressed and struggling with life. We have the Comforter abiding in us who wants to comfort people through us. Isaiah 50:4 says, “For the Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned that I may know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary”. Paul urges us in Ephesians 4:29 to speak words that are good and edifying. Regardless of where you work or what you do…. you will encounter people today that need encouragement.
Notice what Barnabas did: “encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord”.
First of all, this points to the fact that we do not have to continue with the Lord. God doesn’t make us stay saved. God will never override man’s will. Every Child of God must choose to continue walking with God and trusting in Jesus for salvation. John 8:31 says, “Ye are my disciples indeed, if ye continue in My Word”.
Barnabas encouraged the Christians of Antioch to continue with the Lord with purpose of heart. The question that must be answered is…. what is our purpose in continuing with God? Is it to miss hell and make heaven? Certainly that would be part of it, for we certainly want to spend eternity in the Pristine Presence of Jesus. The old hymn says: Won’t It Be Wonderful There, Having No Burdens To Bare. Joyously Singing With Heart Bells All Ringing, Won’t It Be Wonderful There!” Perhaps though, our greater purpose is “HIM”. Jesus… His Sweet Presence in our life….. day-to-day communion and fellowship—our need for a relationship with Jesus is our purpose in continuing on with God and not quitting.
Whatever you do…. don’t quit on God. Continue…. keep on seeking Him…. keep on trusting Him… keep on leaning on Him…. keep on praising Him…. keep on serving Him. Regardless of situations and circumstances…. Be people with purpose of heart - continue on with God!