For the first time in history it was at the City of Antioch that the followers of Jesus were called ‘Christians’. It was probably a nickname ‘Messiah man’ – ‘Jesus people – and intended as a put down, but they wore it like a crown: ‘Yes we are Christian men and women’. They were a born again fellowship, a true community, and it was so open that it welcomed people who were not Jewish. This was a step so revolutionary that the cautious Jewish church at Jerusalem sent out one of their best men to see what was going on (I mean you can’t be too careful, can you?). Well, great-hearted Barnabas was sent to Antioch, and he was so delighted at what met him that he soon went off to Tarsus to find Saul, and brought him there to share in the exploding revival in which new Christians needed teaching and systematic Christian training. For a whole year Barnabas and Paul were the resident preachers and teachers at Antioch. Imagine having the two best preachers in the world occupying your pulpit every week. It was a growing fellowship – alive with Jesus. Everyone was welcomed, and wonderful things were happening- A real living family of God’s people. No wonder they first called them Christians at Antioch.
They were also a giving fellowship. One of the Christian prophets predicted a severe famine in days to come.What did they do? They gave according to what they could give, and not by what they could keep for themselves.They collected it so that when the predicted famine struck, they were ready to send help at once. No wonder they called them Christians.
During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world . (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. Acts 11: 27-30
A Prayer: Thank you Lord that your true church does not beg for money from a needy world but gives cheerfully, sacrificially, and systematically, to meet the needs of the world.
Now read Philippians Chapter 4