Though Paul and Barnabas were among their capable leaders, the church at Antioch wasn’t great because of the pastor’s flamboyant personalities, their extraordinary leadership styles, or their superior pulpiteering.
As the Scriptures introduce us to this model church, we read that at Antioch they were“proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:20–24). The church at Antioch was a great church because “the Lord’s hand was with them.”
As Moses was leading the Children of Israel toward the Promised Land, he reminded them that they had seen “His greatness, strong hand, and outstretched arm; his signs and the works he did in Egypt to Pharaoh king of Egypt and all his land; what he did to Egypt’s army, its horses and chariots, when he made the water of the Red Sea flow over them as they pursued you, and he destroyed them completely ... Your own eyes have seen every great work the Lord has done” (Deuteronomy 11:2–7).
After crossing the Jordan River on dry land, Joshua erected a monument at Gilgal, in the shadows of Jericho. “The Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is strong, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God” (Joshua 4:23–24).
After the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate, Peter and John were harassed by the religious leaders. After spending a night in prison, the disciples returned to the church where they “raised their voices together to God and said, ‘Master, you are the one who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them ... And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand for healing, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:24–31).
“Jabez called out to the God of Israel, ‘If only you would bless me, extend my border, let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm, so that I will not experience pain.” And God granted his request’ ” (1 Chronicles 4:10).
Would you be willing to faithfully pray that God’s hand would be on your church? Let’s try something like this...
Holy Father, extend Your hand to lovingly discipline and graciously correct Your wayward and unfaithful children. And please, Almighty Lord God, stretch out Your hand to protect, to guide and direct, to grant victory! Oh God, might it be exclaimed far and wide, that the Lord’s faithful hand is with Your church!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.