Grow Deep - Sent Vol 3 - Week 2
Week 2: July 28-August 3
Sent to Encourage
Memory Verse: “Then they (Paul and Barnabas) returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.” Acts 14:21b-22a
Of all the Bible characters you will encounter in this week’s readings, Barnabas is singled out as an encourager. Chuck Robertson describes Barnabas in his booklet of the same name as a welcomer of strangers, a seeker of workers for the Lord, being supportive of others … in other words, an encourager!
Sometimes it is easy to pass over Barnabas as we read Scripture without thinking about the effects of emulating his behavior. Recently, though, the effect of purposely encouraging others was impressed upon me as I watched a documentary on my way to a Lutheran Women’s Conference. The documentary was, “The First Rosa” produced by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It was about the life of Rosa J. Young, her love of the Lord, her love of learning, and her desire to teach black children too poor to go to school in central Alabama in the early 1900s. Words of encouragement from Pastor Nils Bakke, a Missouri Synod pastor, words of encouragement from Scripture, and her faith in the Lord made it possible for Rosa to not only achieve her dream of educating poor black children, but to also start 20 Lutheran schools and 30 Lutheran churches … all achieved in spite of obstacles.
I don’t believe that Pastor Nils Bakke and Rosa Young were thinking about building schools and churches as they went about the work the Lord set before them. They simply went where they were sent, sharing words of encouragement along the way. Their words of encouragement spilled over to others as they were encouraged themselves by time spent in the Word, by their love for the people they served, and as the Holy Spirit worked through them … three simple things to consider as we think about being sent to encourage.
Sunday, July 28
Read: Acts 11:19-24
Peter explained to Jewish Christians that God had sent him to preach to Gentiles. They gave God their praise and glory. Barnabas was sent to Antioch and saw the grace of God at work. Saul of Tarsus and Barnabas were sent to Antioch together to preach and teach and spread the Gospel there.
Reflect: Why do you think travelers from Cyprus, Phoenicia and Antioch took the message only to Jews? Why did other travelers go to Greece to preach? Do your answers have anything to say about encouragement?
Monday, July 29
Read: Acts 11:25-26
Barnabas is sent to Christians in Antioch. When he arrived he saw God at work in the lives of many of the people. He encouraged believers in their faith.
Reflect: What can Christians in 2019 learn from Barnabas and Paul? What encouragement is given to Christians in verse 26? (Hint: Check the meaning of the word Christian.) To whom is God sending you as an encourager?
Tuesday, July 30
Read: Acts 11:27-30
Then Barnabas was sent to find Saul of Tarsus. After Barnabas found him, they were both sent back to Antioch with the truth of God and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit for the people there. Agabus prophesied a multi-year famine; relief was sent to persecuted Christians in Judea and delivered by Paul and Barnabas.
Reflect: How would you have responded to Agabus? Saul and Barnabas were teaching the people during the time Agabus arrived. Did their teaching affect how the people responded to Agabus? How?
Wednesday, July 31
Read: Acts 11:1-3
Christians in Judea heard that the Word of God had been received by Gentiles. When Peter returned to Jerusalem after having spent time with Cornelius in Caesarea, he was accused of associating with uncircumcised, unclean people.
Reflect: What parallels can you draw between the Christians in Judea and Christians today—positive and negative? Ask God to show you someone of a different background and culture to whom you can be a witness today.
Thursday, August 1
Read: Acts 11:4-9
Peter began to tell his brethren about the message he received from the Spirit while in a trance (Acts 10). The Lord told him to “eat” unclean animals. When he objected, the Lord told him that they were clean because God had made them clean.
Reflect: How would you have responded to Peter’s explanation of being in a trance and seeing a vision if you had been one of those believers? How can verse 9 help you to be an encourager?
Friday, August 2
Read: Acts 11:10-16
Continuing to recount what happened, Peter said that he was sent to Joppa so that he could share the Gospel message with a Gentile and his family and the close friends who were gathered there. That Gentile was Cornelius. Peter preached to them; they were all baptized and received the Holy Spirit that day.
Reflect: In these verses Peter continues his story. What would you like to ask him about his experience? Do you find the message in these verses encouraging? Why or why not?
Saturday, August 3
Read: Acts 11:17-18
The hearts of those in Jerusalem who listened to Peter share were turned from "contending" with him for associating with Gentiles to praising and glorifying God for His work done through Peter.
Reflect: How can these verses be an encouragement to believers? What did you find in these verses that helps you to encourage friends and family members, whether they are believers or not? Who will you talk to today to encourage them with the Gospel message?