Prophets and Encouragers: People who Help a Church "Grow Up"

well I hope invite you to open up your

Bibles to the book of Acts chapter 11

Acts chapter 11 and just so you all know

these sermons are videotaped and put on

a YouTube page and I actually heard

about a young man of a 13 year old boy

named Tomas who listens to these sermons

every night as a sleep aid and it really

helps him so I want to say a big hello

to Tomas god bless you god bless you

we're glad that you're with us so anyway

just let you know I'll send out a link

someday so people have access to all the

different sermons that are preached here

in the English service so Acts chapter

11 as you know we are working through

the book of acts which is about the

early Christians throughout what God did

after Pentecost spreading the church and

how the holy spirit was moving and God

was invading the earth through his

people and we as we read these stories

we read about ourselves because we see

in these stories the kind of group the

kind of church within a church that we

would like to be now today I'm going to

introduce you to two of my favorite

characters course everyone's my favorite

character right so I need to be careful

about saying that but two of my favorite

characters in the book of Acts in the in

the New Testament who were important

people in the early church and hardly

anyone has heard of them we're gonna do

a little quiz right now how many people

here know who Barnabas is I can ask you

to raise your hand if you know about

Barnabas raise your hand nice and high

okay good okay so about half well about

a third of us have heard the name

Barnabas okay now let's try it again he

was an important guy he was a very

important person and he's a person that

I want us to be like here in the English

services another character we're going

to meet named Agra bus agra bus okay

let's see a show of hands how many

people know who agra bus is nice and

high nice and high oh that now it's

getting good 12

agra bus was an important guy in the

early church and God used him in an

important way that I pray he does among

us as well okay so we're gonna meet

Barnabas and agra bus today so Acts

chapter 11 verse 19 this is a text that

talks about how the church was spreading

remember Stephen had been mardik

martyred he been killed for his faith

and everyone had to run away from

Jerusalem and as they were running they

preach the gospel about Jesus Christ and

so God used martyrdom the blood of a

martyr to spread the church that was

spreading and spreading and people

started talking to anyone they met so

they went into a region called Samaria

and they talked to Sumerians about Jesus

then they kept going there's a guy named

Philip who even spoke to an ethiopian

eunuch right an official from africa and

he shared the gospel with the Ethiopian

eunuch and then Peter gets a vision that

the gospel is not just for Jews it's

also for Gentiles for non-jews as well

and so he shares the gospel with not

just a Gentile but a Gentile who also is

a Roman captain a captain in the Roman

army so a representation of the

oppression of the people of Israel ends

up being one of the first Gentile

converts to Christianity him and his

whole family until God was starting to

move now as he's moving people are

traveling and they start preaching the

gospel in a city called Antioch and we

never heard of Antioch and would know

where it is tin Syria still there today

there's a lot going on there right now

well at that time it was the third most

important city in the Roman Empire you

had Rome itself you had Alexandria in in

Africa in Egypt and then Antioch the

third most important city now God had

predicted a thousand years earlier

through the prophet Isaiah that one day

there will be three altars to the Lord

and altar in Egypt and altar in Syria

and an altar in Jerusalem and we're

going to see that that's fulfilled here


Kingdom spreads to Africa to Jerusalem

and also to Syria okay so stay with me

here and let's read in verse 19 of Acts

chapter 11 acts 11 says now those who

had been scattered by the persecution

that broke out when Stephen was killed

traveled as far as Phoenicia Cyprus and

Antioch spreading the word only among

Jews verse 20 some of them however men

from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch

and began to speak to Greeks also

telling them the good news about the

Lord Jesus the Lord's hand was with them

and a great number of people believed

and turned to the Lord news of this

reached the church in Jerusalem and they

sent Barnabas to Antioch when he arrived

and saw that the grace what the grace of

God had done he was glad and encouraged

them all to remain true to the Lord with

all their hearts he was a good man full

of the Holy Spirit and faith and a great

number of people were brought to the

Lord then Barnabas went to Tarsus to

look for Saul and when he found him he

brought him to Antioch so for a whole

year Barnabas and Saul met with the

church and taught great numbers of

people the disciples were called

Christians first at Antioch during this

time some prophets came down from

Jerusalem to Antioch and one of them

named Agatha say men 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 and this they did sending their

gifts to the elders by Barnabas and Saul

let's pray dear God I thank you

that you are the God who brings new

things to life and this time of

springtime we're observing life

returning to our region god I thank you

that you bring churches to life and

Christians to life and father I thank

you that you send the people that are

needed to help nurture that life god I

thank you for these characters from the

book of Acts I thank you for Barnabas

thank you for agra bus i thank you that

they were gifts to that church to help

it grow and become strong and lord I

pray in the name of Jesus that you would

send Barnabas and agra bus to the

English ministry of congregation Lion of

Judah as well so speak to us today let

this time of reflecting and sharing on

your word be prophetic in nature let

what we're reading about come true among

us we pray in jesus name amen amen so

people were traveling away from

Jerusalem where the persecution had

happened and for the most part they were

just talking to Jewish people about

Jesus but some people decided it was

time to start talking to Gentiles right

do you think the Apostles told them

excuse me would you please also preach

to Gentiles do you think they received

orders from Peter saying now you must

share the gospel with non-jewish people

as well do you think they needed to be

told no I don't think they did I think

when you get so full of Jesus you just

can't help but talk about it no a church

that is alive and vital will grow

because you just can't contain something

that's living amen you ever seen in a

parking lot a little plant breaking out

through asphalt you ever seen that how

does that happen how does a little plant

break concrete because it's alive and

life is powerful and life is unstoppable

amen and I see that in our church I

remember I went to a conference once on


in in Chicago actually greater does a

lot of great evangelism and we were

learning about evangelistic programs and

methods and we took a little test to see

how our church was doing at evangelism

evangelism means telling other people

about Jesus and I took the test and our

church which had doubled in size in the

past like a couple years when I at that

time 2001 when I took it we failed the

test right we were apparently we weren't

doing evangelism but somehow the church

had doubled in a few years right how can

that be it's because evangelism and

sharing the gospel is something that

just bursts out of you when it's real

when it's authentic you just can't stop

now I do believe we need to train and

help and equip people to do that but

it's something that is just it just

comes out of who you are so they started

talking to Gentiles in Antioch and a

church was born now a young church needs

help right God was moving and the

Apostles are always catching up with

what God is already doing they didn't

plant a church in Antioch a church just

happened in Antioch and then they

decided it's time to send someone to

help them but I often feel like that in

our church I shared about this a while

ago that very often God does things and

it's not that the pastors are totally

out of the loop I mean we know what's

happening but we don't plan it but God

brings something to life and then we

catch up with what God is already doing

the ministry at the shelter on Tuesday

nights that was not my idea that was

someone else's idea and they invited me

in and I helped to support it a little

bit when it started and then I stepped

out for a few years and it grew and got

much better and it's still there going

better than ever seven years later the

breakfast in the basement that was not

my idea someone else's idea other people

who are doing it I just show up and eat

how many pastors get to have breakfast

with a hundred neighbors every week it's

great it's just it's great how many

people get to do that it's a I just get

to mingle and meet a hun

of my neighbors every single week if I

want to if I can make it praise the Lord

you see very often the leaders need to

catch up with what God is already doing

because God is already moving so they

decided it's time to send someone

actually two different people a few

different people go down and that's

where we meet Barnabas and agra bus

these are people that are gifts to a

young church they're people who helped a

young church grow and become what it's

supposed to be and we if you didn't

notice are a young community here we are

a new community that's being born sort

of a congregation within a congregation

and we're also a rather unusual mix know

that God has pulled together and we need

Barnabas and agra bus to so we need to

pay attention to what happens here

because guess what you just might be

Barnabas you just might be agathis so

let's talk about them a little bit but

before we do I want you to think in your

own life about people who had an impact

on you when you were young maybe young

spiritually or just young as a person no

those individuals that God sent to you

that had an impact on you I know for me

there is a couple people that come to

mind quickly I was 16 years old when I

accepted Jesus in my heart is my Lord

and Savior and there was a group of guys

that kind of formed who were raised

Catholic who all accepted Jesus and

decided we were going to be radical

Christians we were going to take over

the world for Jesus right it's a little

group of guys and we were kind of on our

own so one of our leaders one of the one

of the guys in the group found an

Episcopalian Pentecostal priest they're

out there there's some Pentecostal

Episcopalians they wear collars and they

also speak in tongues anyway it's a long

story but he invited him to join our

group and kind of Mentor us his name was

Wis Hayes I'll never forget him and he

used to meet with us every week and help

us lead bible studies and teach us and i

used to have so many questions has

anyone here who has a lot of questions

as I would read through the New

Testament I would just list every verse

that I didn't get I would have questions

questions questions and I'd list them

and every time I saw wis I would just

grill the poor guy I'm like what about

this what about that I don't get this

how about this and he would try to

answer and be like oh here we go again

you know but he enjoy he seemed to enjoy

it though and so he would answer my

questions he'd be with us I never forget

when after a couple years he was

transferred to Pennsylvania and by the

way none of us attended his church he

just did this to support this group of

young people but I did visit his church

on his last Sunday when he was just

about to be transferred I was like how

can you leave how could you leave us I

felt him feeling so abandoned but I

don't forget I'm saying goodbye to him

and he turned around to say goodbye and

he gave me this look like right my eyes

with a smile and I I'll never forget

that look it was a look of i don't know

it's just a look of love and

appreciation he was looking into me like

he could see the potential that i felt

to me and i just it it i was 16 years

old so that was 30 years ago good dude I

never forgotten that look he was a

Barnabas to me there was another person

I met I shared a little bit about this a

couple weeks ago when I visited a church

in Hartford that had a Christian drug &

alcohol rehab program remember teen

challenge and then I but I thought I

could never go you know they won't they

don't want to hear it from me and one of

the leaders of this ministry visited my

church in in simsbury in the town I grew

up in and he was an anointed man of god

and he preached and he was a great guy

and afterwards he says I gate why did

you come and help me out in the ministry

just tag along with me one summer and

help the guys you couldn't help teach

him to read you could pray with the guys

and I'm like well maybe I'll give this a

try and so I went with him and every day

I would just tag along with him and he

would give me assignments in fact the

second day I was there he said okay

chapel tomorrow ten o'clock no I

is it tomorrow yeah chapel tomorrow ten

o'clock this was my second day there he

said you're preaching I'm like are you

crazy now teen challenge even though

it's called teen challenge they you have

to be 18 or up to be part of it I was 18

years old at the time so I'm younger

than all these guys what in the world

I'm preaching tomorrow I'll never forget

just the terror I experienced right and

then the next time now you're okay now

you're going to do this now you're gonna

use pushing me at the end of every day i

sat down with him and I would say this

is what happened this is what I

experienced this is what a guy told me

you know and this is how I handled it

what do you think and I'd process it

with him and he give me input and advice

and I remember after one of the sermons

I gave in a in a chapel service we're

sitting down and he paused at the end of

the day that day you just said you know

Greg so want you to know you know you've

got a calling on your life and I say

that message that was you you can do

this you can do this when you grow up

not just what you grew up you could do

this tomorrow again at ten o'clock he

was a Barnabas and in agra bus for me

amen think about your own life right the

people that God has brought along that

encourage you and we're going to talk

about the desperate need we have for

that in a young church with many people

just seeking the lord we need the spirit

of barnabas and a goddess among us so

that's what the Apostle decided they

said this new church of Gentiles these

people feel like outsiders many of them

are Gentiles some of them are Jews there

in Antioch who do they need do they need

Peter do they need John do they need

James you know we could you know who

they need they need Barnabas let's send

Barnabas now I want to talk about him

anyone know what isn't his real name was

Joseph actually Joseph he was from the

island of SAT is it was at Cypress

Cypress he's from an island anyone here

from an island know anyone here from

islands it's okay you can raise your

hand many people from ireland's God you

know islands are good huh people are

happy on islands usually happier than in

Boston usually anyway he was from an

island he was a Levite these were the

people who were descended

from Levi they were usually priests so

he was from that background he was

apparently somewhat well-to-do his

sister owned a big house where she had a

Bible study group that she had us a

servant she employed and everything so

is apparently well-to-do he sold a big

field and gave like all this money to

the church anyone know his nickname you

know what no Barnabas's nickname what

they called him go ahead you can shout

it out what not quite not quite James

and and John were sons of thunder do we

have any sons of thunder among us I

think we've got some sons and daughters

of thunder praise the Lord called the

via apostles and preach his nickname was

son of encouragement isn't that cool son

of encouragement that's what they called

him he's the kind of guy that you want

around when you need someone to help you

keep going forward anyone remember what

happened we talked about this a few

weeks ago when Saul who was a persecutor

of the church remember Saul was

persecuting Christians and and he was on

a journey to Damascus to arrest some men

and women Christians and dragged them to

jail and on the way God appeared to Saul

on the road knocked him over Saul Saul

why do you persecute me who are you lord

and then he was blind for three days and

then he he became Paul right he became

Paul but nobody wanted anything to do

with Saul can you blame him they're like

he was a persecutor he's here here to

kill us and then he says no but I'm a

Christian now I'm one of you really and

like right praise the Lord brother you

could just serve the Lord over there I

remember what you did you know aunt

Effie you know he was a persecutor

nobody wanted anything to do with him

the Apostles would not meet with him

until one man guess who Barnabas took

some time to get to know him and then he

brought them to the Apostles Peter and

John and James and he said guys really

he's really met Jesus

God appeared to him on the road he's

been preaching is really know how do you

think he knew that God appeared to Saul

on the road how did he find that out in

the first place he must have taken time

to ask Saul to tell him his story and to

hear tell me what happened to you wow

you met Jesus and Barnabas saw that God

was really moving in saw it says when

Barnabas arrived in Antioch that he saw

the grace of God among them he could see

the grace in Saul he could see that it

was real and he took him to the Apostles

and said let's give him a chance

Barnabas was a son of encouragement have

you ever had somebody may be a teacher

or a coach or a friend or a uncle or a

grandparent or a sibling or mother

father who believes in you who sees the

grace in you even if nobody else buys it

they can see that you have a calling on

your life that's what Barnabas was now

he was an encourage her just that word

to encourage whenever I do weddings i

love to give charges to the the spouses

and i especially charged the bride to

encourage her husband now to infuse

courage to to build him up in that way

did just the word encouraged in greek

it's it's podok laces it's the same word

used for the holy spirit what the Holy

Spirit does in your heart if it felt the

Holy Spirit lift you up amen well I can

feel the anointing upstairs I tell you I

love it when the kids make noise

upstairs that's what I want to hear

praise God it means they are worshiping

Jesus and that anointing just dribbles

right on down so that's okay and you

hear that just let it out let it sike

you up that's a good thing so Barnabas

knew how to infuse courage into other

people how to encourage them and that's

what I want to talk about what does it

mean to be an encourage r if you look

with me the text again it starts in

verse 22 I want to look at verse 22 it

says news of the

this reach the church in Jerusalem and

they sent Barnabas to Antioch when he

arrived and he saw what the grace of God

had done he was glad now in the literal

Greek it's a little different it just

says when he saw the grace of God how do

you see the grace of God you can see the

grace of God in a person do you have

eyes to see that can you see Jesus in

the person next to you can you see the

grace at work in that person or do you

just see what let's just say God has not

yet changed in their life yet no you

ever heard the phrase a diamond in the

rough where there's a diamond but it's

still dirty and you can't quite see the

beauty in it yet well Barnabas had eyes

to see the diamond even when it was in

the rough he could see the grace of God

and he was glad about it he saw it and

there was a happiness that look that

with Hayes gave me when he looked at me

and he could see the grace of God and he

smiled oh that marks a person see when

you can see the grace of God in people

and you rejoice because it makes you

happy you like I can see that God's

working in your life it motivates you to

encourage them it motivates you to

inspire them to keep going forward

because there's nothing more encouraging

than a person who can see what God is

doing in your heart and is happy about

it and who's cheering for you who's on

your side do you have anyone like that

that you know they're in your corner you

know they're rooting for you see most of

us have had experiences that are the

opposite most of us have had experiences

with air people who really don't

necessarily encourage us the way they

should right well God wants us to be

like Barnabas where we see in the people

around us all the beauty that God has

sown in them and we rejoice about it and

then we encourage them to move forward

on the Bible says that he encouraged

them to remain

true to the Lord with all their hearts

he was a good man full of the holy

spirit in faith and a great number of

people were brought to the Lord because

a person like that is inspiring to the

people around them no now many of us

we're looking for someone to encourage

us but it should be the reverse we

should say i want to encourage them how

many people here work with children or

youth in particular you work with

children or youth you know the desperate

need that a young person has to have

people who can see the potential that

God has put in them they give them a

chance when no one else will that

encourage them that don't give up you

can do this you can make it it's

powerful its spiritually anointed and it

makes a difference in people's lives I

want to be a Barnabas right now an

encourage r is someone who naturally is

looking to help other people shine now

now what does a Barnabas do once he's

been there a little while who does he go

to look for did anyone catch this verse

25 says then Barnabas went to Tarsus to

look for Saul apparently some time had

passed Saul had probably we don't know

all the details but he probably gone

back to his hometown a Christian and

everyone was like what what's happened

to you know the Apostle still were wary

of him he goes back to Tarsus who knows

what he was doing he may have been just

I don't know I don't know what he was

doing but he certainly wasn't

ministering at that time and Barnabas

says it's time to go find Saul I think

I've got a job for him right it reminds

me of anyone ever heard of the Buena

Vista Social Club musical project no

maybe I'm dating myself it's a project

of Cuban musicians who were great

musicians in the 1940s and 50s during

the heyday of cuban jazz right all the

good cuban jazz were well there was a

guy who was a businessman who would

travel to Cuba somehow he would go there

and he decided to try to find where were

these musicians

now and there were some famous guys and

women and so he started looking for them

there was one that he found who was 92

years old in a nursing home and he

thought hate can you still play piano he

says can I mera wah-wah-wah-wah-wah

toccata no he did okay Chewie novato

cotton 92 years old did he still had it

there was another guy even I'm fair

there who I don't know what he was doing

he was selling platano somewhere I don't

know and he still had a voice even I'm

fat red you ever heard him there was a

beautiful woman I forget her name who I

actually saw her here in Boston one God

there was one guy there was one guy who

was some some people were on the streets

right here in Boston a Berkeley

professor that comes to our church plays

bass better not it though he he was

downtown and there was a guy who was on

the streets because he had an addiction

to alcohol and he was living on the

streets he was an elderly Cuban man and

better nada de would walk by him every

day as he can't be like wait a minute

you're one of them you used to play

congas you hey wait a minute and and and

he he it was it was he was part of the

he was a great conquista in the 50s and

he came over in the Mariel boatlift and

he was here on the streets and he

brought him in and he played congas

right here for a while I never forget a

new year's eve i just talked he's kind

of been in and out of the church i just

talked to him recently but and he still

had it still had it great man great man

so Barnabas was the one who went out to

look for Saul he probably found him

somewhere I don't know it's like

remember me his Barnabas dude I got a

job for you he says once you come with

me to Antioch I think we can work

together and they boy did they end up

working together right they work

together for a year and and Saul who

became Paul ends up becoming this great

man of God he becomes a great apostle

they started traveling together but you

know what even though the Apostle Paul

we've all heard of him became more faith

Amos and well-known everyone still

recognized that Barnabas was the leader

remember the story there's one story

where the two of them went to a town

where they're preaching together and

people started thinking they did

miracles they did some miracles there

were some healings and some people

thought the Greek gods have come to us

in human form and so they start bringing

sacrifices and wreaths out to them and

they said the older one will call Zeus

and this young talkative one named Paul

will call I think Hermes or who's the

speaker god I don't know i don't forget

so they recognize that even though

Barnabas is the strong silent type he's

a leader he's seuss right and they're

like no I'm not Zeus Zeus isn't real

there's a Jesus and they had to explain

and everything right but the whole thing

Barnabas was perfectly happy to find a

person and help that person shine and

even outshine him only half of you had

heard of Barnabas but I'm sure all of

you had heard of the Apostle Paul right

so I want us to be like that people who

see the potential and the people around

us and help them shine I want to be a

Barnabas for people and maybe everyone

don't forget me but they'll remember you

because you'll serve the Lord in

powerful ways so we need that Barnabas

spirit now if you look at what happens

in the church under the Ministry of

Barnabas and Paul the church matures

look at what it says in verse 26 see

they didn't know what to call these

people they're not Jewish and they're

not normal Gentiles anymore so look at

what they were called for the first time

ever the believers were called

Christians will just call them

Christians a third race they mature they

became Christians in Antioch but they

needed Barnabas to become who they were

meant to be okay so that's one guy I

wanted you to meet we're going to come

back to him later the second person we

meet we see some profits come down and

one of them named Agra bus stands up and

predicts through the spirit that there's

going to be a famine in the land and

it's time to prepare and so they all

decide to take up an offering

and send it to the Jewish Christians in

Judea and in Jerusalem and they give

back to the church that founded them

prophets who spoke the Word of God an

early church a young church a tender

church needs encouragers like Barnabas

but it also needs prophets like Agatha's

I want to talk about what a prophet is a

prophet is a person who receives and

delivers messages from God other words

God shows them things or speaks to them

and they deliver that message now if

somebody comes to you and says I have a

message from God for you the first thing

you might think is I think I'm going to

call the police so it's you know I

really believe this though in the Old

Testament there were prophets that would

hear the voice of God and they write

down what they heard or they would see a

vision and they would communicate that

vision and you could read what they said

in the books of the prophets Isaiah

Jeremiah Ezekiel Old Testament prophets

but there weren't many prophets they

were special men and women by the way

even in the Old Testament women

prophetesses who would receive the

anointing of the Holy Spirit and speak

the Word of God so here's the question

is that still around are there still

profit today you see there was an

interesting moment in the Old Testament

where God was taking the holy spirit

that was on Moses and giving it to some

of his elders and leaders and and the

apasa and and joshua gets a little

concerned that now Moses isn't going to

be the only prophet anymore there's

other guys prophesying maybe we need to

stop them then Moses chuckles and said

Joshua I wish all of God's people were

prophets and that God would pour out his

spirit on them what's almost like God

was listening right they said guess what

Moses in the last days I will pour out

my Holy Spirit not just on a profit

prophet or a priest or a king I will

pour out my holy spirit on all flesh and

your sons and your daughters will

prophesy in other words it's not just

going to be one or two people anymore

all of God's people are going to have

access to revelation from the Holy

Spirit jesus said it's good that I go to

the to the heavens to the heavenly

dimension because I'm gonna go and the

Holy Spirit will come to you and will be

in you and he will teach you he will

guide you into all truth he'll take the

things that are mine and he'll make them

known to you the Holy Spirit will speak

to each one of God's people the Prophet

Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 31 in that day

no one will have to teach his neighbor

saying no the Lord because they will all

know me from the least to the greatest i

will write my law in their hearts and

they'll hear my voice prophets all of

god's is what i'm saying is that you can

be a prophet or prophetess i'm saying

you can hear from God now you don't have

the authority to write new books of the

Bible and we're going to talk about that

but you can receive guidance directly

from the Holy Spirit now there were some

people who had this gift in a special

way and they were referred to as the

prophets and agamous was one of their

leaders it's a gift of the Holy Spirit

that some people will excel in more than

others in different ways because we're

not all the same right we have different

gifts of the Holy Spirit you may have a

gift of prophecy in a special way and I

may have a gift of encouragement or

someone else may have a gift of service

or a gift of teaching or a gift of mercy

there's all kinds of different gifts so

agra bus was a prophet in a special way

he had that gift now i want to talk a

little bit though about this gift of

prophecy in the New Testament because we

need it folks we need prophetic gifting

if we're going to grow up and mature as

a church now it's different from the old

testament version of prophecy in some

ways and i'd like you to go with me to

the book of first Corinthians chapter 14

first Corinthians 14 and we see that

this version of prophecy in the New

Testament it's different in some

important ways for example in the Old

Testament if a prophet spoke any

prophecy that did not come true

precisely it meant they were a false

prophet that means they and capital

punishment they're fake in the New

Testament it's a little different you

see in the Old Testament the prophet

there was no room for error they were

hearing a voice being dictated and they

just wrote it down or they saw a vision

and they just described what they saw so

there was no room for error in the Old

Testament version of prophecy but in the

New Testament version of prophecy

apparently it's more of an art than a

science people are trying to discern

what God is saying to them and what's

just me right and they're trying to

figure that out so it's a little

different and the purpose is a little

different to see the Old Testament

prophets were like there were messengers

from God challenging people to repent of

idolatry and turn back to the covenant

faithfulness to God in the New Testament

it's similar but it's different in some

ways if you look with me first

Corinthians 14 verse 1 the Apostle Paul

is teaching the Corinthian Christians

about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in

verse 1 it says follow the way of love

and to eagerly desire gifts of the holy

spirit especially prophecy so in other

words we're supposed to desire this gift

this is an important gift that we should

be seeking and praying for its specially

prophecy verse 24 anyone who speaks in a

tongue does not speak to people but to

God indeed no one understands them they

utter mysteries by the Holy Spirit verse

3 but the one who prophesies speaks to

people for their strengthening

encouragement and comfort for their

strengthening encouragement and come

for see a prophecy in the New Testament

is not always predicting the future it's

not always saying it's going to rain

tomorrow or it's not going to rain next

month or whatever it is sometimes a

prophecy in the New Testament is a word

of encouragement and strengthening to

help you feel that God loves you and

he's with you it's meant to be something

that speaks to your heart into your

spirit I know I've shared this before

but I just love this image and so I want

to share it again of a story I heard

about a young boy who when he was

growing up he used to love to sit by the

Appalachian Trail in its some in in the

woods where people would hike by and the

hikers would be tired and thirsty and

this little boy love to just set up a

table on hot summer days and give out

cups of cold water and lemonade to the

hikers in that nice he didn't charge he

just was so happy to give people a cup

of cold water to refresh them well that

little boy became a Christian and grew

up and as a mature man of God he

received a gift of prophecy where when

he meets people God would just show him

things that he could tell them that

would encourage their heart he would

give them spiritual cups of cold water

in that night it was the same love it

was that same impulse to refresh a

person's spirit that God would flow

through and say I'm going to give you a

cup of cold water for her i'm going to

give you something for him and he would

come up to people and God would show him

things about them that he would have no

way of knowing he would he would tell

them I know you're having a hard time

with this or that the other thing God

wants you to know that he's with you

that he's going to help you and guide

you strengthening encouraging in my own

life when people have prophesied to me

it encourages me because it helps me

know that the God that God knows my

phone number right it helps me know that

what I'm going through God knows and he

understands and he cares most of the

time it's simply a prophetic person

saying you know God really showed me to

pray for you about this and I'm like no

way I'm going through exactly that

how do you know it's like what God just

showed me and it's so encouraging to my

heart New Testament prophecy New

Testament prophecy is not usually meant

to provide guidance and to tell you what

you're supposed to do again it says that

each of us has a direct relationship

with God and I don't need a person to

take the place of God in my life right

so we need to be very careful about that

in the New Testament it's very important

that prophetically gifted people be

plugged into a church and work under the

authority of that church can you see why

imagine if you have a gift where God

speaks to you can you imagine how that

could go to your head God speaks to me

I'm the Prophet cadiz could you see how

a person could become corrupt very

quickly there's a verse it says or

there's a traditional saying that power

corrupts absolute power corrupts

absolutely nothing more powerful than I

hear from God so prophetic person needs

to be submitted to a church now if you

skip with me ahead to first Corinthians

14 verse 29 it talks about this because

the prophets were apparently dominating

in services they weren't submitting to

the order and and so the Apostle Paul's

teaching them how to do things in an

orderly way verse 29 it says two or

three prophets should speak and the

others should weigh carefully what is

said and if a revelation comes to

someone who is sitting down the first

speaker should stop for you can all

prophesy in turn so that everyone may be

instructed and encouraged the spirits of

the prophets are subject to the control

of the profits for God is not a God of

disorder but of peace as in all the

congregations of the Lord's people so in

other words a prophetic message needs to

be tested right so if someone comes up

to you and again I know I kid about this

all the time but if someone comes up to

you you're a single lady and some guy

comes up God told me right God told me

you're the one or vice versa right well

could tell you to write write this a

because a prophecy needs to be tested

but it's because a person who has the

gift of prophecy or as we move in it

we're not one hundred percent sure where

we think we're hearing their internal

impressions and you share what you have

but you learn to discern the voice of

God now there are some people I know who

especially some of their dreams are just

adding over and over again God has shown

me that they have dreams that are direct

messages from God no but even they can

sometimes just have a weird dream that

doesn't mean anything and also just

because a person receives a message from

God or has a dream that God gives them

doesn't mean that they know what that

dream means right how about this story I

heard a story of a there's a particular

Church in Kansas City that I like a lot

where there's a lot of prophetic League

if two people and a person who is newly

using this gift goes up to a guy in the

church and says God has shown me that

you are supposed to be a member of the

worship team you're supposed to be a

worshiper the person's like okay God

speaking to me you're you're

pathetically gifted person I'll try it

so they they join the worship team and

unfortunately the one thing they don't

have is a voice to sing with right it

sounded like a dying animal up there

right and he's trying and he's trying

and it does not working the worship

leader is like look I know the Lord sort

of spoke to you maybe but I just don't

know I think we need to test this a

little bit right so so then they go back

the guy goes back to the prophetic

minister and says hey tell me what you

saw what was your vision and said well I

had a vision of you and over your head

was a musical symbol right over your

head says well you should have just told

me that I was considering i opened a

music store right a store that was ova

selling music like musical instruments

and books look oh well I thought it

meant you were supposed to be well it

didn't mean I was supposed to do you see

where I'm going with this the Rev

elation was real but the interpretation

was not very often prophetically gifted

people receive a revelation but they

don't know how it applies and so I tell

them just tell them what you heard tell

them what you saw just pray into what

was revealed to you and don't presume to

go on to give them advice right if you

look at what happened here agra bus

predicts a famine does he tell them what

to do he said there's going to be a

famine so he back to Acts chapter 11 he

says there's going to be a fair man he

does not tell them what to do they

decide to take up an offering see this

gets really important because other

people don't necessarily know God's will

for you and we can't let people try to

control you we don't believe in

controlling people here you make your

decision to follow Jesus you submit to

guidance and advice but I don't let

another person like be like almost like

a fortune teller for me like oh you got

to tell me what should i do should I go

on this trip should i do this you know

instead of seeking counsel sometimes we

want to use other people like a fortune

teller and that's not what it's supposed

to be what they decide to do is is they

take the offering but agathis doesn't

tell them to do that go with me again to

Acts chapter 21 there's an interesting

case of this acts 21 verse 10 acts 21

verse 10 the Apostle Paul is traveling

to jerusalem and we all know the story

that he eventually in Jerusalem he gets

arrested taken put on trial he

eventually gets taken in Chains to Rome

where he eventually is martyred okay now

God reveals this to the Prophet so in

verse 10 acts 21 verse 10 the Apostle

Paul is traveling towards Jerusalem and

after he had been in a certain place a

number of days oh oh by the way I'm

going to read in verse 9 in verse 8 and

9 i'm actually going to skip all the way

to verse 7 thank you for your patience

with me look at what it says as we

continued our voyage from tyre and

landed in Ptolemais where we were

greeted by the brothers and sisters and

stayed with them for a day leaving the

next day we

cesare ax and stayed at the house of

Philip the Evangelist remember Phillip

the guy who talked to the Ethiopian

eunuch he was one of the seven verse 9

he had for unmarried daughters who

prophesied so God is giving the gift of

prophecy broadly now not just to one or

two people verse 10 and after we had

been there a number of days a prophet

named agra bus came down from Judea

coming over to us he took Paul's belt he

tied his own hands and feet with it I

don't know how he did that but somehow

he tied his hands and feet with this

long belt and he said the Holy Spirit

says in this way the Jewish leaders in

Jerusalem will bind the owner of this

belt and will hand him over to the

Gentiles scary huh in other words the

owner of this belt will be arrested now

how do you think people reacted to that

what are they going to tell Paul please

don't go don't go to Jerusalem you're

gonna get arrested look at what it says

in verse 12 when we heard this we and

the people there pleaded with Paul not

to go up to Jerusalem look how Paul

answers verse 13 Paul answered why are

you weeping and breaking my heart I am

not ready I'm ready not only to be bound

but also to die in Jerusalem for the

name of the Lord Jesus he wouldn't be

dissuaded does that mean he didn't

believe the prophecy no you see the

prophecy was true but the Apostle Paul

knew it was God's will for him to be

arrested it's a good thing he didn't

listen to the advice that the people

gave him so just because there's a

prophecy that's given doesn't mean that

the person giving the message knows what

God's will is for you they're just

giving a message that we need to receive

right because the gift of prophecy is

real but it needs to be tested and it

needs to be interpreted the gift of

prophecy is a beautiful thing I'm going

to encourage you I'm going to encourage

you to listen to what God might be

speaking to you know now I don't want

again I don't want us to get paranoid

and to read

read messages from God into every

passing thought we have but if you find

yourself worrying about a perch I'd

encourage you to just pray for them no

just pray for him and then maybe you

could give him a call and say hey you

know I was um I was praying for you the

other day how was everything I was just

I was thinking about you don't call and

say the Lord told me that there's a

problem no you just you bring it to them

humbly like for instance what I've done

under I did this once I was preaching to

church in Argentina right and and I was

a little young adult church and I'm

looking out and I'm looking at one

person it comes into my head this person

has a health problem and then I look at

someone else and i said this person has

a problem at work with their employment

it just like it was just like a thought

that was in my head for them so what do

you think I did you you're sick no I

didn't do that I approached them

afterwards and just real low-key I said

hey you know how have you been feeling

lately I you know I'm I'm finding myself

thinking about your health I'm just

praying for you to be healthy and the

person broke into tears they had just

been diagnosed with a very strange

health condition actually and so I was

like well he got speaking he's with you

in this let's let's pray then I went to

the other person and I said hey you know

how's your how's your job I'm you know

I'm just I'm thinking about that and

praying for that don't come and say thus

says the Lord you have a problem at work

not it's just very humbly kind of

testing the waters tell me about your

job you know and the person is like how

did you know to ask I got fired you know

today you know well let's pray God is

speaking he's gonna he's gonna take care

of you you see it's meant to encourage

you that God knows what you're going

through and he has the power to help you

in the middle of what you're going

through there's different ways of

delivering a prophecy there's one

brother in the church has a very refined

gift of prophecy and the way he does it

is when he's praying for you he just as

he's praying God just revealed stuff and

he just praise into that and he had a

discipleship group actually and the guys

in his

group all started doing the same thing

and i'll never forget one of them a new

believer it was praying for me one day

and saying god I pray for a good a

goatee and you know I don't know why but

does he if he feels such and such and

such I pray you would help him to feel

better and like dude how did you know

had I didn't tell you that if I God had

revealed it to him so there's different

ways to deliver a message and sometimes

you might be wrong okay and that's okay

because we approach it humbly we learn

to discern the voice of God and we

submit to Authority and also to the

community but a church needs Agra bus a

church needs people who can move in the

spirit who can hear from the Holy Spirit

and share and we really believe that God

doesn't just speak to the pastor believe

me past God does speak to pass a tomato

I've learned vividly vividly as a gift

of discernment especially but if someone

comes up to him so you know past

daughter I was praying for this and that

I felt God saying he takes it very

seriously and he takes that in he'll

weigh it and pray for God is going to

speak to us we need a goddess among us

but we also need Barnabas now I want to

end by again reflecting on what it means

to be an encouraged because sometimes we

can forget about how people encouraged

us and we can be hard on the people

around us rather than encouraging them

sometimes that can happen do you know

how Barnabas reached out to solve when

no one else would have anything to do

with them and then Barnabas went and

found saw flipping burgers and he took

them put him to work in ministry

remember that you would think that Paul

would be eternally devoted to Barnabas

wouldn't you well guess what a couple

chapters later we read that Barnabas and

Saul had a sharp disagreement sharp

disagreement it was about a certain

young man who also happened to be a

relative of Barnabas's named John Mark

John Mark and this young man went on a

missionary trip with them and the being

a missionary's hard we have any people

had missionary experiences it can be

really hard and

on this trip halfway through young John

Mark who was probably a teenager said

I've had enough there's bugs in the

bathroom there Cena the food's got me

sick to my stomach I'm going home to

mommy which quite literally he was the

one whose mother was well-to-do had the

big house and he's like I'm going home

I've had enough bye guys okay now

Barnabas and Saul come back from their

trip and john mark is like he's like gig

I want to try can I come with you this

time what do you think paul says and you

failed us once this is a war We're

warriors for the Lord we're preaching

the gospel of Jesus Christ there's no

room for weak people you stay home son

what do you think Barnabas said let's

give him a chance come on okay he blew

it let's give him a second chance come

on Paul didn't I give you a second

chance remember when no one wanted to

have anything to do with you and I

reached out to you and I took you to

church and I gave you a chance and then

when you were often nowhere and I

brought you to Antioch and put you to

work remember and Paul's like no it's

often like that guys some of the people

who are meanest to the people to new

people are the people who we had to be

really gracious with when they were new

I've seen that over and over again

people who come and everyone wants to

kick them out and pastured Roberto says

no let's give him a chance let him stay

and over the years we tolerate with it

and then they grow and they become great

Christians and then when they got it all

together they don't want to cut everyone

else's head off I've seen that over and

over again the Apostle Paul forgot

Barnabas gave the kid a chance so he

took young John Mark one way and Paul

took a guy named Silas another way and

praise the Lord God god bless their

trips and everything but this young man

John Mark you actually I can guarantee

you had you ever heard of John Mark

before you know what all of you have

heard of John Mark you know why pay

attention to a second name

because he sometimes went by John he

sometimes just went by the name mark you

ever heard of Mark as in the gospel of

this kid that blew it this kid that

failed them that Paul didn't want to

give a second chance to ends up becoming

a guy who writes a gospel in the Bible

how about that because someone named

Barnabas gave him a second chance isn't

that powerful at the end and one of the

letters that Paul wrote he said by the

way could you guys said Mark to me he's

good he's helpful i could use him it was

the Apostle Paul he didn't come out and

say I was wrong but he pretty much said

it and he even recorded it in one of his

letters you see God wants us to be

Barnabas with the people around us

there's going to be some difficult

people around us in any church the

church is a hospital there's meet people

are gonna have ups and downs there's

gonna be people who need a second chance

who needs someone to see the grace of

God in them mark is among us the people

sitting next to you there's greatness

around to some of the kids here the

young people people who are new we're

just getting started they need a

Barnabas and I want us to commit let us

be a community where the attitude of

Barnabas in the anointing of agra bus is

free to flow here and let us be called

here simply Christians amen a mature

community that lets people find their

greatness that's what I want to be

that's what I want to be part of a mint

so i invite you to stand with me and

let's let's pray and let's ask the Lord

to do this I am so grateful for the

people who gave me a second chance for

those of us who are students here do we

have any high school students here we

have June middle school high school

college people who go into a dining hall

you ever go into a cafeteria and there's

a table where one kid is sitting alone

because nobody wants to sit with that

kid I want you to be the one who goes to

that table and makes a friend

and right here in church and in our

community I want us to be the people who

go to the person who feels like they

don't fit and make them fit because we

accept them we love them we see the

grace of God in them and we rejoice as

we see it that's the kind of community I

want to be and God is calling us to do

it I'm grateful for the people who did

that in my life and I've received freely

I didn't deserve it and we want to give

back to the people around us let's pray

dear God I thank you so much Lord for

your mercy and your goodness that loves

that endures forever father I thank you

that your grace is real even in very

imperfect vessels such as ours but that

grace is real Lord God I pray in the

name of Jesus that you would give us

here eyes to see the grace of God

working in the people around us father

that we would be a Barnabas to the

people around us especially God to those

closest to us father to our family

members to our relatives to our friends

God to the people that we could not

encourage I pray that we would be

encouraged errs God that we would be

people that they can count on to be in

their corner Lord God and I pray Lord

Jesus that you would unleash a spirit of

prophecy among us God that you would

speak to your people God that you would

guide us that you would bring us

messages of strengthening and

encouragement Lord God that we would

hear the voice of the shepherd among us

God raised up agra bus raise up the

daughters of Phillip Lord God men and

women who hear the voice of God and

intercede and pray god help us as a

community within line of Judah to grow

into mature and to become who we are

called to be