Fairmeadow Community Church of The Nazarene
October 31, 2021
  • What A Beautiful Name
  • Acts 11:19–26 NRSV
    19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. 20 But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21 The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”
    How are you with maps or gps? Are you the navigator in your family? So here is a map of the area where all these things are happening. This is the mediterranean sea that borders Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The large island you see is Cyprus, which is mentioned. Barnabas is from there. If you look to the right and go down you will see where Jerusalem is located. Most of the early Jewish followers of Jesus were from that area. If you go up from Jerusalem eventually you will see Antioch or Syrian Antioch as it is often called. Then if you continue around the corner to the left you see the city of Tarsus. All of these are important. There is some distance between them but all of the areas are within reach. Tarsus and Jerusalem are worlds apart. Traditional Jewish influence starts to weaken by the time you get there. The jews in Tarsus were influenced by both the Hebrew world and the Greek world. This is where Saul who becomes Paul grew up. But to go to seminary he travelled all the way back to Jerusalem to study under one of the two must famous Rabbis. Stephen was also located in the Jerusalem area. You remember he was the first Christian killed for his faith in Jesus. Saul was there when it happened. In between these two important cities is a place called Antioch. That’s where most of the action happens in today’s passage.
    Four places: Jerusalem, Antioch, Tarsus, and Cyprus. Three key men: Barnabas and Saul. Ok ready to dive in?
    Remember Stephen? It’s so sad that he is murdered by an angry mob just because he loves Jesus and spoke the truth. Once this happens a persecution breaks out, which scatters believers all over the region. Wherever they end up they end up talking to people about Jesus.
    Acts 11:19–20 NRSV
    19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. 20 But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.
    Spoke the Word to Jews. Proclaimed the Lord Jesus to the Greeks. These people were on fire for God and it showed.
    What do you talk to people about? The Bears? The Weather? Politics? Well I’m sure there was some of that stuff too back then. But in a very fruitful way these people got into conversations that made all the difference. Conversations about Jesus.
    Folks the world is changing. We can sit back and complain. We can get bitter instead of better. We can try to fight it with politics. All these things are options. The early church took none of these options. They found opportunities every single day to bless someone and share Jesus. In this generation it is falling to us.
    If you’re a football fan it’s third and long. We need a big play. Not a sports fan? Christians have stumbled during this important hour. During this pandemic too many Christians have focused on their own personal freedoms and individual agendas.
    It’s time to wake up. Going out without a mask on doesn’t prove you have extra faith in Jesus. What proves it is what you do and say to share Jesus. Whether you are at home, at work, in person, on the phone or using technology, how do you share Jesus? How do you encourage less experienced disciples? How do you strategically avoid gossip and instead build others up? When you plan your week and your day how do you plan for sharing Jesus and encouraging younger believers?
    If you don’t spend any time during the week doing this, you’re doing it wrong. (Repeat)

    The persecuted church shared Jesus as they scattered

    What’s your excuse? There is none.
    Now I get the sense that this is mainly sharing their story. How God helped them and changed their lives. How it’s a fulfillment of Scripture that Jesus came and died for us. How the resurrection proves Jesus is the Messiah, God’s Son. How the witnesses to the resurrection have demonstrated their character over time. How Jesus is the way and following him is the best life possible.
    I’m trying to make you aware of how important it is to live this way. For this entire month of October, I’ve refused my pay to demonstrate a commitment to putting the kingdom first in our lives. I can’t ask everyone to put a month’s worth of income on the line. But I believe God is asking you to give to God off the top and to share Jesus everywhere you go.
    Acts 11:21 NRSV
    21 The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.
    As you can see, wherever God’s people have done that with energy and creativity God has done amazing things. God has added to their number regularly those who were being saved. I do three Bible studies a week. I stay in touch with many people who need more of Jesus. I try to empower our existing leaders to multiply their impact by pouring into others.
    Your job is to soak up as much as you can from my teaching and from your own study of the Bible. But I’m not just teaching about the words on the page. I’m trying to teach about the lives witnessed to on the page. And I’m praying that your life will catch flame with the same passion and energy only God can give.
    Acts 11:22–26 NRSV
    22 News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”
    Joseph called Barnabas was from Cypress. But he was mostly all-in for Jesus and for encouraging new believers in their faith. He was sent to Antioch where these other Christians had reached out to their neighbors and friends.

    He saw the grace of God

    It doesn’t say he found programs that appealed to his family. It doesn’t say he liked the music. It doesn’t say everyone there was a good fit for him. It says he saw the grace of God. How do you see the grace of God? You see lives changing and you give God the credit for it. You don’t criticize the way new believers don’t have it all together yet. You get in sync through prayer and living out God’s mission daily. By living as a productive believer every day, Barnabas learned to recognize it. The Grace of God active in someone’s life. People are gonna stumble from time to time. But help them refocus and be forward focused. Can you be like Barnabas?
    Barnabas knew how to love people but he wasn’t as deep in the Scriptures as Saul, later called Paul. So he went and got him. Saul comes and meets with these people regularly for a year and more amazing things happen!
    I think that’s a model we can put into action. You reach out to neighbors and friends. You take them as far as you can go in faith. Then get them connected to me so I can also pour into them. Then they begin to reach out and the cycle repeats. That’s how the church grows.
    Can you do that? Correction: can you let God do that through you? Are you willing to do that? The answer to these questions determines the future of our church.
    I’m not doing Sunday School to give us one more thing to do. I’m seeking to make it a master class on following Jesus and being the church. It can’t be a master class unless we all share our wisdom and experience. Come to the class prepared. How do you prepare? All week long live for Jesus like Barnabas did. All week long make time to pour into others. Read your Bible every day, something. We have a book right now to guide us. But use any plan that keeps you consistent. Pray for your own growth. Pray for the people who need Jesus in your life. Pray for the Church. Pray for me. Then when we gather we have a lot to talk about and share. We learn from each other. Are you catching it?
    That’s what the early church did. Simple questions: Can we do less?
    Because they lived this way, the community noticed. They heard them all talking about Jesus the Messiah, which is greek is called the Christ. Followers of the Messiah. The anointed one. Followers of the Christ. Christ followers. Christians. Those who carry the Messiah with them wherever they go.

    To be called a Christian doesn’t mean those who just believe certain things. It means those who LIVE a certain way because of what they believe and experience.

    Christians. That’s what the people in the neighborhoods and shops called them. Wow. A well earned nickname.
    Friends, let’s be worthy of that name. Let’s see the grace of God in others.
    When I was a kid someone talked me into doing Bible Quizzing. The focus that year was the Book of Acts. I was 11 or 12 years old. It ignited a fire in me for God’s Word. It’s the first time I learned that the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. I learned it was because of how they lived. I was inspired. I learned all I could. I made it all the way to the all state team, the highest you could go for kids at that time. I still have two trophies from that year. But I have something else so much more valuable.
    I have a love for the Word kindled by an adult who cared to put this team together and keep us encouraged. Our own Barnabas. I’m trying my best to pass it on. I know you can do it, too.
    The real difference has always been made by everyday people sharing Jesus. This created opportunities for those with unique gifts to help get people to the next level. But it starts with you. The passion has to live in you. Only you can make the sacrifices even during difficult times.
    The Grace of God is at work in people around you. What will you do next to help them? One simple thing you can do to get started is join us in Sunday School to be more empowered to help others. It’s late in the game and a lot is on the line. But if you choose to live this way you’ll find what the early church found. Someone has your back.
    Acts 11:21 NRSV
    21 The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.
    If i’m not mistaken, we serve the same God. God is ready to do it again where you live. Are you? Let’s pray...
      • Acts 11:19–26NRSV

      • Acts 11:19–20NRSV

      • Acts 11:21NRSV

      • Acts 11:22–26NRSV

      • Acts 11:21NRSV

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