Word@Work, Let God's Word energise your working day!

Practical Spiritual Insight

Acts 11:27-30
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, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. (NIVUK)

Luke's primary purpose in Acts is to describe how the gospel was spread, and how the church grew. However, many other things were also going on, which affected the church. This prophecy by Agabus is an example. At this time, there was no 'New Testament' such as we have to instruct the church. So Jesus appointed apostles to define what should be taught. In addition, the church recognised that God had gifted some people with the ability to be prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers (Ephesians 4:11-13).

As the centre of Christian mission had moved from Jerusalem to Antioch (Acts 11:19-23), some of these prophets visited Antioch to share what God was saying. They were taken seriously, accepting that the Holy Spirit had given the words to build up the church. Agabus said that a famine was coming (for which there is historical evidence) and that the church needed to get ready to support the Christians in Jerusalem and Judea, who were unwanted and displaced minorities.

Like the account of Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 41:28-40), the Lord inspired Agabus to warn of a coming problem. Then the elders discerned the solution and urged the church to give. The believers in Antioch decided to give, and trusted Barnabas and Saul to take the money to Jerusalem. This was not just the urgency of humanitarian relief, but a planned programme of building reserves to meet the future need. Later in Paul's ministry he also urged the churches in (what is now) Turkey and Greece to continue sharing in the responsibility of giving to the Judean church (2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15).

Giving is at the heart of the gospel – the Father sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world (1 John 4:14). Jesus said, "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8). Practical gifts reflect our gratitude to God and our fellowship with other believers. There is something very wrong when Christians, who know they have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19), refuse to give to the Lord. Giving can never earn our salvation, but failure to give shows that we do not understand or value what Christ has done for us. As busy people are the least likely to review their giving, this could be a very important reminder to do so; and then show the Lord your gratitude - by giving.

Gracious God. Thank You for giving me so much in Christ. I am truly sorry for failing to accept my responsibility to honour You or Your church by neglecting to give. Help me to understand that I owe You such a debt of gratitude that I need to give to You. Help me to be sensitive to the needs within Your kingdom-people outside of my family, and teach me to have a generous heart like that of Christ. In His Name. Amen.
Bible Book: 

© Dr Paul Adams