What’s in a Name? (5)
Pray Psalm 115.1-3.
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
Sing Psalm 115.1-3.
(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
Not to us, O God, not us, but unto Your Name give glory!
For Your love and faithfulness, ever to Your Name be glory!
Why should the nations cry, “Where is their God on high?”
You rule us, Lord, on high: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Read Acts 9.1-31; meditate on verses 26-31.
1. How did the disciples in Jerusalem respond to Saul?
2. What was he doing in Jerusalem? Where did the apostles send him?
The disciples in Jerusalem were reluctant, as we might imagine, to believe Saul’s story about having been converted to Christ. But Barnabas – whom we met in chapter 4, and who was singled out for his selfless generosity – saw something there, something genuine, and he took Saul’s side and made it possible for him to continue his ministry among the saints at Jerusalem.
Things had apparently quieted down a bit in Jerusalem, and it seems the persecution against Christians had waned. Trust Saul to crank it up again (v. 29), not because of anything in his character or methods, but just because of his uncompromising proclamation of Jesus and His Kingdom.
For Saul’s sake and safety, the leaders in Jerusalem pack him off to his home because, well, people are always trying to kill him. We don’t know why this destination was chosen, other than that’s where he was from, or what instructions accompanied him. We do know, however, that when Antioch needed a pastor, Barnabas knew Saul would be their man (Acts 11).
Meanwhile, a season of rest settled on the Church in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria.
We note that Luke refers to the “church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria” and not to the “churches” (NKJV has “churches” but consult the marginal note). The believers thought of themselves as one body; the name church is used to designate, in Acts and the New Testament, the population of believers in a particular region (as here), those in a community, those gathering in homes, and the Body of Christ universal. It’s all the Church. Luke used this name at this point to help lay a foundation and prepare us for what will begin to be more obvious in chapters 10-15.
Saul – soon to be Paul – is a disruptive person. But then, when you’re engaged in turning the world upside-down for Christ (Acts 17.1-9), that’s what you might expect. We need disrupters like Saul. And we need comforters and encouragers like Barnabas. Each of these is a work of the Holy Spirit, and each of us who believes in Jesus needs a little bit of both.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles” (Acts 9.27).
Only a man full of the Holy Spirit could, or would, do something this courageous. Something this encouraging. An act like this: so full of love, mercy, and kindness.
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (Prov. 10.12).
“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly,
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6.8).
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?” (Matt. 5.44-46)
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn. 15.12).
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
“Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13. 8, 10).
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (I Cor. 13.4-8).
I wonder if Paul, formerly known as Saul, was thinking about Barnabas when he wrote those words in Romans and Corinthians about love? Was he remembering the mercy, grace, kindness, and love shown to him by this dear brother in Christ? I think perhaps he was.
This is the kind of love that turns the world upside-down and rightside-up. It is the aroma of life leading to life that freshens the world (2 Cor. 2.16).
“…clearly you are an epistle of Christ…written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh that is, of the heart” (2 Cor. 3.3).
Clearly this was Barnabas. Again. But it can be us, too!
1. What can you learn from Barnabas about working your Personal Mission Field?
2. Paul’s boldness and courage are certainly admirable. How can we be more like that?
3. Why is the Gospel sometimes a “disruptive” influence? Is that a good thing? Explain.
The professors of the gospel walked uprightly, and enjoyed much comfort from the Holy Ghost, in the hope and peace of the gospel, and others were won over to them. They lived upon the comfort of the Holy Ghost, not only in the days of trouble and affliction, but in days of rest and prosperity. Those are most likely to walk cheerfully, who walk circumspectly. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 9.23-31
Pray Psalm 115.9-11.
Declare anew your trust in the Lord and your confidence in Him as your Shield and protector. Pray that He will help you to increase in Jesus, and to encourage others to grow in Him as well. Pray that you may be faithful to work your portion of the earth, your Personal Mission Field, for His glory alone.
Sing Psalm 115.9-11.
(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
All who trust in Jesus yield – ever to His Name be glory! –
find in Him their help and shield – ever to Your Name be glory!
O Israel, trust the Lord! He helps us evermore!
Fear Him obey His Word: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Blessings from our gracious Lord – ever to Your Name be glory –
will attend us evermore – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless all who fear You, Lord, all who obey Your Word,
all who Your Name adore: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Grant us, Savior, great increase – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless us with eternal peace – ever to Your Name be glory!
Heaven and earth are Yours; let every soul adore
and bless You evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.