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Thursday, January 4, 2024
Acts 11:23
(Part 3)

Message summary: Our aspiration for 2024 and our appeal to each reader is to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose!

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"When he (Barnabas) came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted (encouraged) them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose" (Acts 11:23).

The main focus of steadfastness in the Old Testament is on God as we shared in yesterday's message. In the New Testament "steadfast" is mostly used to call each believer to be faithful. Our theme verse this year, 1 Corinthians 15:58, has these words, "be steadfast".

The first reference to steadfast in the New Testament is a short description of Barnabas' ministry to the believers in Antioch as found in our daily text.

The background:

After Stephen was slain and the church was scattered "they (Christ-followers) traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch" (Acts 11:19). They initially spoke to the Jews but soon their audience was expanded to the Hellenists (Greeks, Gentiles) (Acts 11:20).

"And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord" (Acts 11:21). To be effective in winning souls to Christ the hand of the Lord must be on the messenger's ministry!

"The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch" (Acts 11:22). Barnabas is actually a nickname meaning "son of encouragement". This describes his steadfast encouragement and support of many in the church beginning in Acts 4. The other day David Penley, a longtime Texan friend, briefly responded to a message and I wrote back informing him that he has a role in my life like that of Barnabas. We all need people like that in our lives. And we all need to be encouragers as well!

Now, a consideration of our daily text:

"When he (Barnabas) came and saw the grace of God":  What does the grace of God look like? In this case Barnabas saw that the "hand of the Lord" was with the unnamed, scattered disciples who shared the Gospel in Antioch and that "a great number who believed turned to the Lord". What evidence would others see that might indicate that the grace of God is upon you and your ministry?

"He was glad" What is more thrilling then seeing the results of ministry? In this case he was rejoicing in the ministry "success" of others, the hallmark of a genuine, mature Christ-follower.

"And he exhorted (encouraged) them all":  Now it was his turn and he does what he did best, encouragement! But what was the heart of his message to these young believers in Antioch?

"To remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose".

That's our aspiration for 2024 and our appeal to each reader. To remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose!

Be encouraged today, Hebrews 3:13

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we desire that in all our ways we remain steadfast in obeying Your decrees. Too frequently we lose sight of our stated goal of obeying You in all matters since we’re daily exposed to ungodly philosophies, lifestyles, and trends that stand in direct opposition to teachings from Scripture. Yet Your Word tells us to remain steadfast in our Christian witness, prayerful in all matters, faithful in our example to others, and obedient to the teachings of Scripture. With the help of Your Holy Spirit we will be obedient to Your decrees even as we pray for others to see the Light of Christ that shines through us in this sin-filled world. Help us to remain faithful to You with steadfast purpose! In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Here's the entire context of our passage today: "Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians" (Acts 11:19-26).

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Keep Believing"   Watch on YouTube  Gaither Vocal Band

Keep believing in what you know is true
Keep believing
You know the Lord will see you through
When troubles rise in your lifе
And you don't know what to do
You'll be fine if you just keep beliеving

You can take Him at his word
He is faithful kind and true
Not a prayer will go unanswered
In His time, He'll see you through

"Steadfast"  Watch on YouTube  Gateway Worship

Edward Menaldino"When the Saviour Reached Down for Me"  Watch on YouTube   Edward Menaldino

On Tuesday we mentioned a memorable event for me when I was being interviewed for ordination and one of the elders (called presbyters) shared a verse with me (1 Corinthians 15:58). That experience and Scripture has been very impactful in my life to this day and is our theme verse this year. At the time the elder, Edward Menaldino, was a pastor of a church in south Philadelphia but in his younger years he was a singing evangelist. Ethan Levengood, a chaplain at United Zion Retirement Community here in Lancaster County, and a longtime reader wrote that he recalls hearing Edward Menaldino sing on a radio program many, many years ago. Although he has been with the Lord since 2012 someone maintains a YouTube channel with his music! This music is probably from the 50's. Remember, it was "contemporary" at that time!

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