Note from Jesus
Dear Faithful Follower,
One of the marks of Our — Father, Son, and Spirit’s — people has been their acceptance of “moving out,” that is, following the Father’s lead and journeying to the places and people where He sends Our people. Think of Abraham leaving the security of his good life to journey to a place the Father would show him. Remember the children of Israel leaving Egypt to follow Moses into the desert as they journeyed to the Promised Land. Consider David going to face Goliath in a battle he should not have been able to win. Recall Esther going before the king, without an invitation, at the risk of her own life in order to save the lives of Our people. These are great examples of the “moving out” principle.
In the events recorded in the verses below, you will find three kinds of circumstances that helped instigate My faithful followers in their “moving out” into a new future that blessed many:
- Obstacles in their path — the persecution that began with Stephen’s martyrdom caused the believers in Jerusalem to be scattered and moved them to other places, and they shared My message wherever they went.
- Opportunities given them — Saul, who later was known as Paul, and Barnabas ministered in Antioch in response to the reports of My “grace in action” that moved them to go there and help grow this great multi-cultural group of My disciples who were the ones first called Christians.
- Our call for them — Agabus’ prophecy of a famine moved them to give to those in need.
I want you to look for these same three types of circumstances — obstacles, opportunities, and Our call — in your spiritual journey. When you find yourself presented with something that seems like one or more of these, prayerfully consider if it is Our signal for you to be “moving out” with My grace to bless others! Unfortunately, you can get so busy and distracted with the world’s stuff that you miss Our purpose for you in these sets of circumstances. Let these circumstances nudge you to bring Our grace to the lost, to bring helpful encouragement and growth to those newly saved, and to bring tangible help to the broken and needy.
I left the safety and security of My being with the Father and the Spirit by “moving out” and coming to earth. I chose “moving out” and living among you and sharing your mortal existence so you could be caught up in My life, eternal life.
Remember those in the early years of My church “moving out” to bring My grace to others. They didn’t give up in the face of obstacles. They didn’t pass up opportunities because they seemed too challenging. They didn’t ignore Our call for them to share generously because it was costly. Like Our people before them, they became a “moving out” kind of people.
Let these examples motivate you. I want you “moving out” into the places where you can be salt and light to the world in decay and darkness. I want you “moving out” to bring My love and grace to people in desperate need of both. I want you “moving out” to reach those in other cultures as well as those among your own acquaintances who do not know Me. I want you to be a “moving out” people!
Verses to Live
As the disciples who were scattered following Stephen’s death spread the good news about Me, they were helping fulfill My call:
“Here’s the knowledge you need: you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth.”
The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to the new Christians in Antioch. He then went to Tarsus looking for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch to help fulfill My Great Commission to disciple people of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Then in response to Agabus’ prophecy about an impending famine, these new disciples demonstrated they understood My heart for helping those in need (Matthew 25:31-46).
The believers who were scattered from Judea because of the persecution following Stephen’s stoning kept moving out, reaching Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. Until this time, they had only shared their message with Jews. Then some men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had become believers came to Antioch, and they began sharing the message of the Lord Jesus with some Greek converts to Judaism. The Lord was at work through them, and a large number of these Greeks became believers and turned to the Lord Jesus.
Word of this new development came to the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch to investigate. He arrived and saw God’s grace in action there, so he rejoiced and urged them to remain faithful to the Lord, to maintain an enduring, unshakable devotion. This Barnabas truly was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit, full of faith. A very large number of people were brought to the Lord.
Barnabas soon was off again — now to Tarsus to look for Saul. He found Saul and brought him back to Antioch. The two of them spent an entire year there, meeting with the church and teaching huge numbers of people. It was there, in Antioch, where the term “Christian” was first used to identify disciples of Jesus.
During that year, some prophets came north from Jerusalem to Antioch. A prophet named Agabus stood in a meeting and made a prediction by the Holy Spirit: there would be an expansive, terrible famine in the whole region during the reign of Claudius. In anticipation of the famine, the disciples determined to give an amount proportionate to their financial ability and create a relief fund for all the believers in Judea. They sent Barnabas and Saul to carry this fund to the elders in Jerusalem.
Response in Prayer
Father, I remember that Jesus’ brother James taught Jesus’ disciples to pray for wisdom. So I’m praying for wisdom to recognize my need for “moving out” in response to obstacles, opportunities, and Your call to Me. Help me, dear Father, to know when “moving out” and when staying the course are the right things to do. Such kinds of decisions are hard for me to discern properly. So as I open Your word and as I trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit, please give me wisdom. Give me wisdom so that I can properly respond to the events that happen in my life and use them for Your glory and the sharing of Your grace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
For teaching on praying for wisdom, see James 1:5-8.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.