Imagine for just a moment that you are Paul. You are excited to share your love for Christ. You are making plans to learn from the apostles everything they know about Jesus. Jesus has turned you inside out and upside down and you can’t wait to tell anyone and everyone. But when you go up to people to tell them about Jesus, they don’t want to hear what you have to say. Even if they don’t shun you outright, you see the looks they give each other and hear their whispers to each other. Had Barnabas not taken the time to listen to Paul; had he not taken the time to listen to the Holy Spirit, what would that have done to Paul. I don’t think it would have turned him away from Jesus because his experience with Jesus was unmistakable, but it could have caused him to hesitate in speaking Jesus.
All too often, mature Christians are quick to criticize new believers, treating them as if they should act like mature believers. Rather than welcoming them onto the team, they are quick to point out how immature and inexperienced they are. Sometimes the older saints are threatened by the zeal of the younger saints, sometimes they just don’t want to change the way things are being done. But we ought to learn from Barnabas to err on the side of acceptance and encouragement. If the younger believer needs to have some rough edges smoothed out, the Lord will take care of that over time.
Sunday, October 16
“20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?”
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. (Psalm 36:5) Thank you for the example of Paul! A man determined to imprison all believers who, after an encounter with Jesus, turned 180 degrees from who he had been. He became one of the staunchest believers who ever spoke Jesus. Lord, give us the strength and courage of Paul. Let us speak Jesus crucified, dead, buried, and ascended regardless of the consequences to ourselves. In the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.
Monday, October 17
“22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah. 23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.”
Your righteousness, Lord, is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. (Psalm 36:6.) Our deepening faith and determination to follow you can create confusion in others, and, Father, to be honest there are times that their reactions can cause us to step back. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who will help strengthen our dedication to you and give us instruction when we listen for your voice. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Tuesday, October 18
“26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.”
How priceless is your unfailing love, Lord. Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7) Father, forgive us when we don’t make space for others because of what we think about them. Becoming the people that you call us to be is a growth process. Help us grow in you Lord where we can be an asset to the growth of others instead of a detriment. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Wednesday, October 19
“27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.”
Lord, with you is the fountain of life, and in your light, we see light. (Psalm 36:9) Barnabas was in your light Lord and because he was, he could see your light in Saul. Help us strive to stay in your light where we look for it in others. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
Thursday, October 20
“29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.”
Thank you, Lord, for answering when we call you for help in our troubles. (Psalm 86:7) Father, sometimes the hardest people to share the Gospel with are those who know about you. When we speak only Jesus, we will encounter those who refuse to hear that the salvation we find in Jesus is about faith and faith alone. Give us the strength to pray for them instead of fighting them In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen
Friday, October 21
31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.”
Lord, we praise you for the peace we can find in you even when the world is in turmoil. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14 that you are the author of peace not confusion. When we are confused, Father, remind us to look to Jesus as the source of our peace. He stilled the waves during the storm, and I trust Him to calm me when my storm wages war within me. In Jesus’ holy name, we pray, Amen.
Saturday, October 22
Praise to you Lord for the strength and peace you give your people (Psalm 29:11) Lord, empty us of anything that is not from you as we prepare to gather in worship tomorrow. Forgive us for the times this week that we did not look for Jesus in others. Forgive us for the times we responded to others harshly instead of lovingly. Fill our minds, hearts, and souls with your Spirit that will push out anything that is not of you. Speak to us through your servant and help them continue to grow in you. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.