NT Fire Starters – Day 175: Acts 11:19-30
READ: Acts 11:19-30
THINK: Think of a time when someone encouraged you, and it made all the difference in that situation. One of the most effective ways to influence people in a positive way is to be an encourager. People like to be around those who lift their mood, inspire them to new heights and simply offer hope. But most people have few, if any, significant encouragers in their lives. Of all people, Christians–confident in their identity with Christ–should be the greatest encouragers. By offering words of kindness, gratitude and inspiration to people you encounter every day, you can influence them to receive the ultimate encouragement that comes through a personal relationship with Jesus.
RESPOND: What happened when the followers of Christ who were scattered by persecution began to spread the message of Jesus to people of other nationalities (v. 21)? What was the result of the Lord’s blessing on the messengers? What did Barnabas do for the new believers? Why was his challenge important? (See 11:23 note.) Judging from his defense of Saul (Acts 9:26-27) and his work among the new believers in Antioch, what kind of a man was Barnabas (v. 24)? Why is encouragement so vital, particularly to newly committed Christians? Why do people respond to encouragement? What did people call Christ’s followers in Antioch? (See 11:26 note.) How did this term likely originate and why? Why did the followers of Jesus accept this “title” with honor?
PRAY: Ask God to use you every day to encourage people you meet, and particularly to those you know who are new in their Christian faith. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help and empower you to conduct yourself in a way that is worthy of identifying with Jesus.
ACT: Encourage as many people as possible today–Christians and non-Christians, those you know well and people you don’t know at all. Don’t underestimate the influence of simple words of kindness, thanks and inspiration. Befriend those whom others neglect. Thank everyone from teachers to cafeteria workers for jobs well done. Encourage friends to use their abilities to the fullest. Don’t forget to be a help and inspiration to members of your family.