Remain true to the Lord. This was part of the encouragement, advice, and news that Barnabas brought from Jerusalem to the church that gathered at Antioch. The early disciples were living very full lives, sharing with others the way to have full life in Jesus. They preached and taught; they healed those in need, and miracles gave credibility to their words. As the disciples followed the teachings of Jesus, more people began to follow Jesus’ disciples. Unfortunately, this all made for some jealous religious leaders. A couple of the disciples were even imprisoned but were miraculously released by an angel. Stephen became the first Christian martyr and as persecution continued, the church scattered and yet continued to grow.
Saul was amazingly converted to Paul and joined Jesus’ team to spread the good news that there was purpose to life. Up to this point in God’s Story, the message was mainly told to the Jews. God’s plan was for all nations to be blessed, and how surprised the church in Jerusalem was to hear that Greeks too were being brought into God’s Kingdom. When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. When we think about those who have faithfully shared the love of God with us, I hope it fills us with joy. It is great news to know that God’s love is for everyone; there are no exceptions. No one is too good and no one is too bad. Who will experience more of God’s love through us today? May we be encouragers like Barnabas was back in the days of the early church.