Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)
TITLE: Thank you Barney
By Kenneth Heath
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Ever heard of a Levite farmer named Joseph the Cypriot? Perhaps you’ve heard of Barnabas, the name given to him by the disciples? A name they used to describe his character. Barnabas is mentioned a few times in the New Testament and then he fades into obscurity.
However there is more to Barnabas than meets the eye. He convinced the chief apostles of the genuineness of Paul’s conversion. He represented the apostles at Antioch, convincing them that gentile conversions were Gods’ work. At the Jerusalem Council, on the gentile question, it was he who caused the gentiles to be accepted into the fold. Imagine if his opinions had been rejected, dear gentile believer? He journeyed with Paul, and until they left Cyprus, it was he who was apparently leader. Paul spent about ten years in preparation before his ministry began and most of that time was under Barnabas‘s instruction.
He also encouraged the shy, introverted John Mark, known to us as Mark to write the gospel of Mark. Mark was a companion of Peter and helped him write down accurately, all that he remembered of Christ. Mark was also the originator of the gospel-form, by setting all the unconnected sayings and actions of Jesus in a theological and chronological structure that under-lie the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Few really understand Barnabas’s immense contribution to the Bible and our salvation until they look at the bigger picture. Luke sums him up best when he calls him, “son of paraklesis” or “son of encouragement”. J.B. Phillips translates parakletos with the beautiful phrase, “The one who is coming to stand by you.” It is also translated “one called alongside, advocate or comforter.”
In John 14:16 Jesus speaks of the Father giving us another comforter. In verse 26 He tells us that the helper or encourager is the Holy Spirit. Friends, have you met your encourager? Do you have a relationship with Him, and will you allow Him to guide you down life’s pathway? Jesus had to go away so that dear Holy Spirit could come and indwell us! There is so much more to life and He is available to all that will believe. Is it not time to open the door of your life and let him in? God has a special plan for your life but you need to be in the Spirit, so that like Barnabas you will accomplish great and mighty deeds for the Kingdom.
With dear Holy Spirit as your guide, you too can reach out your hand to others. Right now there is somebody who needs a word of encouragement, a helping hand, a gentle hug or a shoulder to cry on. Meeting a person at their point of need and encouraging them is all it takes. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Show them love and that simple act will be all that it takes to change a life. Encouragement is an act of love and love is the only commandment that Jesus left us with. Remember He said, ”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Ten Commandments is only the wrapping paper. The sweet inside is Love! We are a new race of people on this earth. We are the Lovers….come on I dare you, become a Barnabas. Go the extra mile, encourage all whom you meet, become Jesus to them. Guard your tongue, speak life into all situations, see the good in every situation, believe in people and know the value of well-chosen silence. Become vulnerable and allow your heart to become as flesh and not of stone. Love in spite of and remember that now is the time to shine your light, for soon the night is coming when no man can work.
“We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” and in these troubled times before His glorious reappearing, we need to be Barnabas to our fellow believers. Support your Pastor and elders, lift those tired hands, speak words of life and above all look for a stumbling believer to help. Who knows? You might be encouraging another Paul, Mark or Luke.
The writer George Adams described encouragement as “oxygen to the soul.” So breathe deeply, dearly beloved and pass it on. Thank you Barney.
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