By Terra Hangen
Today's Scripture: Acts 11:1-30
Central Thought: The apostles reached out to every group of people.
The apostles ministered throughout Judea to Jews, Gentiles, and Hellenists, which was shocking for the times, since these people groups traditionally lived separately and kept apart. In Acts 11:19-21 we learn that some men traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the news of Christ only to Jews. Yet in Antioch, others from Cyprus and Cyrene preached also to the Hellenists, and the hand of the Lord was with them, and many who heard, believed.
With a few men daring to reach out to strangers, a strong Christian community was born in Antioch. In Jerusalem when the church heard of this, they sent Barnabas to see for himself, and he became an enthusiastic supporter of this new Christian community.
We have the opportunity to reach out to the stranger today, without the dangers that the apostles faced. Look around you in church next Sunday and notice people that you don't know. They may be members like you, but you don't know them, or they may be a first-time visitor. Take a chance and invite a pew neighbor to meet you for coffee during the week, or take a bouquet of flowers to the house of a new member or visitor.
Devotional Prayer: Lord, let me dare to reach out to a stranger and offer him or her a token of my caring, whether sharing a cup of coffee or a few stems of homegrown roses. Help me make my church a place of nurturing for every soul that enters it.
Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 18:1-46; Acts 11:1-30; Psalm 135:1-21; Proverbs 17:12-13