The Book of Acts, chapter 4, we’re just going to look at one verse, we’re going to do some jumping around a little bit today and it talks about some of my favorite people in the Bible today, so I’m really excited of this. These are some of my heroes and they’re heroes that are not too often talked about and that’s why I was looking forward to this. So, Acts, chapter 4, we’re just going to read verse 36 and 37, Libro de los Hechos, versículo 36 y 37.
It’s starts by talking about a man named Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus. I’m just going to bet a lot of us don’t know about Joseph, this Levite from Cyprus in the book of Acts, the Apostles had a nickname for him, whom the Apostles called, Barnabus which means, son of encouragement. And it says that this man sold a field he owned, brought the money and put it at the Apostle’s feet. That’s the first we see of Joseph, also called Barnabus. All I wanted to do with those verse was start by mentioning that name, Barnabus.
How many people before this had heard of Barnabus? You’ve heard of him? Some people heard of him? Ok, it’s vaguely some of have been like Barna, who? Barney. He’s not a commonly known biblical character, but I love him just from the nickname they gave him because it means ‘son of encouragement’. So I want to talk about it tonight. The concept of encouragement. What that means? How we’re called to do it? the fact it is a powerful act of faith and even spiritual warfare at times.
So, we’re going to be jumping around a little bit in scripture but I just want to start with a quotation from Webster’s dictionary. I don’t want to look like anything, I don’t know why, pretend like a I know for some reason, but I’ve looked up the word encouragement, or to encourage in the book of Webster’s. It means literally, 1) to inspire with courage, spirit or hope, to hearten. To inspire with courage, even the word encourage implies that, to inspire with courage, spirit or hope, to hearten. And 2) it means to spur on or to stimulate.
You know, I’m really in the mood to think about this, when even Webster’s dictionary starts to bless me, because just that word and what it means, and the power that can be unleashed when we learn how to do it, is an exciting thing. So, let’s pray.
Father, in Jesus’ name I pray that your Holy Spirit will speak to us tonight. I thank you that you are the living God and that you know us better than we know ourselves. I thank you that you brought us here tonight and I thank you for the people that you’ve called to share in this ministry. Father, I pray that it would be your spirit speaking to us tonight. Lord, that you would convict our hearts, that it would be your application to each one. Father, we open our hearts before you, we recognize that this is a holy moment, when we come before you and open your word together, so Father, speak to us tonight, visit us we pray, in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
I’d like you to go back to the Old Testament again, for the first time here, first Samuel, chapter 14, and we’re going to read a story, this can be the first example of encouragement that I want to talk about tonight, but I want to think about encouragement in 3 different types of relationships that we might have.
What does it mean to encourage those who are leaders in our life? What does it mean to be a supporter who really knows how to make a leader feel like he or she can do what they’re called to do?
Number 2, what does it mean to be an encouraging friend to other friends?
And number 3, what does it mean to be an encouraging mentor who knows how to take people under theyir wing and help them along?
So, I’m going to start with the first one, in First Samuel, 14, we’re going to read a story about a character who’s the son of King Saul, his name was Jonathan. And it was at the time when king Saul was doing anything but serving the Lord, he was in a time of rebellion against God and the enemies of Israel were leaving them completely defeated, and Saul was paralyzed, they weren’t going to war the way they were supposed to and Jonathan one day decides to do something about it. And so we’re going to read about that in First Samuel, 14, verse 1, we’ll start from there:
“One day, Jonathan, son of Saul, said to the young men bearing his armor, ‘Come let us go over the Philistine outpost on the other side’, but he did not tell his father. Now, Saul was staying in the outskirts of Geba, under a pomegranate a tree, and with him were about 600 men and then it goes on to list some of those men, and in verse 4 it says:
“On each side of the path that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost, was a cliff, one was called Bozez, the other Seneh, one cliff stood to the north toward Michmash, the other to the south towards Geba. And Jonathan said to his young armor bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the outpost of these uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
Verse 7 “… Do all that you have in mind, his armor bearer said, go ahead, I am with you heart and soul. Jonathan said, ‘Come then, we will cross over towards the men and let them see us and if they say to us, ‘wait there until we come to you’, we will stay where we are and not go out to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us’, we will climb up because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands. So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. ‘Look,’ said the Philistines, ‘the Hebrews are crawling out of the hole they were hiding in’. The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor bearer, ‘Come up to us, and we’ll teach you a lesson’. So Jonathan said to his armor bearer, ‘Climb up after me, the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.’
So, Jonathan climbed up using his hands and feet with his armor bearer right behind him and the Philistines fell before Jonathan and his armor bearer followed and killed behind him. And in that first attack Jonathan and his armor bearer killed some 20 men in the area of about half and acre. Then panic struck the whole army, those in the camp and field, and those in the outpost and the raiding parties and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.
Now, Saul’s lookout in Geba of Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions and then Saul said to the men who were with him, ‘muster the force and see who has left us’. When they did, it was Jonathan and his armor bearer who were not there. And Saul said to Ahijah, ‘Bring the arch of God at that time…..” and we’re going to skip ahead, but then it says, I just want to skip down to the ends of this, in verse 23:
“So the Lord rescued Israel on that day and the battle moved on beyond Beth-horon.”
This is an amazing story of a conquest of two guys who start a battle that conquers an entire army, hundreds of thousands of other enemy soldiers. The guy, the main character here in the story is Jonathan. Jonathan who decides, ‘let’s not just situation here, let’s try to do something. And there’s a lot we could talk about from him, from his example, courage, almost a reckless faith, a desire to move when everything seems defeated. So there’s a lot we could look at with him.
But the person I want to focus on in this story is the armor bearer. Now, the armor bearer’s name, what’s the armor bearer’s name? 40 dollars for anyone who know the armor bearer’s name. There’s no name for the armor bearer, no name. This guy is an amazing character in this victory of Israel and we don’t know his name in the story.
Now, I don’t want to read too much into that but just from the top, what could that possibly tell you about this person, or at least from our perspective in this whole story? That he is part of the incredible victory, and there’s two main characters and we don’t even know his name, that tells me, perhaps I’m reading a little too much into this, but I think what I like to see in this is somebody who doesn’t need necessarily to make a name for himself, somebody who cares more about success for the Kingdom of God, someone who cares about his boss, I don’t know how to put it, the guy whose armor he is carrying. His ambitions and his goals are subsumed in the visions and goals of the person he is serving, and I see this armor bearer as an incredibly encouraging person to a leader. And especially in a situation like this.
Now, in those days apparently they would be soldier and he would have a shield, any significant soldier, any significant leader would have a shield that the armor bearer would hold and he would follow him into the battle and it was his job to watch out for his master, watch out for the person he was serving.
Now, this is a situation where if I had to put myself into his shoes and it’s just the two of them and they’re about to take on a whole army without anyone backing them up, and the way Jonathan puts the story. If you notice, Jonathan says, ‘Let’s go over to the other side, perhaps God might do something on our behalf, because nothing can stop God from saving’.
In Spanish the word he uses there is ‘quizás’, now that’s a word that implies uncertainty. It implies that I’m not totally sure about what’s going to happen in the story. He’s saying, let’s move and perhaps something good will happen if we just start moving.
Now, I don’t know about you, but often when someone invites to me to do something I like to know what the plan is. I like to know where are we going with this, what’s the plan for how we’re going to do it, and I like to have some certainty that it’s going to work.
I heard a great message by a pastor from California Erwin McManus that I highly recommend anything you hear from him. Well he said once he had a member of his church say to him, pastor, you just tell me, you just tell us that you know that God is with you in this thing, that you know that God is with you in what you’re doing and I’m behind you a hundred percent. And the pastor said, ‘I can’t guarantee, if I waited to be 100% sure of anything, I wouldn’t do anything. He says, the key to my success is moving in faith even when I’m not sure and then seeing what God does and then him confirming what his will is. He says, but one thing I know if I don’t move, nothing is going to happen.
And this is the story where Jonathan wasn’t completely sure, he was feeling his way as he went and he invited his armor bearer to be part of this. But this is not just a project, this was risky, this was life or death. They could have died in what they’re doing. The armor bearer could have responded saying, ‘Jonathan, you know, it’s a good idea, but I don’t think it makes much sense, I need just a little bit more explanation, a little bit more of a plan. Otherwise I’ll let you go and if it works then I’ll come in.’
He could have done that, a lot of us would have done that. But the way he responds and I want to highlight that verse, he says in verse 7:
“Do all that you have in mind, go ahead, for I am with you heart and soul”
And I think of the beauty of being an armor bearer for someone else, of saying I don’t have any more certainty than you do that what you have in mind is going to work, but I know that you’re a person of faith, I respect you, I’m with you so do everything you have in mind, and I’m with you heart and soul.
Something of that tells me is I’m not going to follow to do my duty, but not really let my heart be in it with you. He says, I’m committed to throw my heart into this with you, even though neither of us is sure of what’s going to happen. And if we lose, we lose together. If we get egg on our face, we get egg on our face together, but I’m with you heart and soul.
And I want you to think about just how this whole thing unfolds and then they climb up together. I love the way they do this, the way they started this whole thing. They could have asked for some sign from heaven, but instead they say, let’s show ourselves to them and see what they say. So they climbed out of a cave, the two of them together and they showed themselves to the enemy and see how they respond. And the armor bearer did it with him. He crawled out of the hole with Jonathan and just to see what God would do.
I want to ask you to think about, who are the people in your life that are in some role of leadership for you. Now, that could be in the church context, spiritual leaders, it could be in your jobs, because I think these principles apply even outside of a faith context. Your employer, your supervisor, your leaders, other leaders, people in your life, and ask yourself the question. An armor bearer for this person. Have I adopted and made my own this person’s vision for this company, this office, this ministry, this success? Am I internalizing it with him or her and am I willing to put myself out there and jump into the fray with this person? Are you an armor bearer for someone? Being an armor bearer is a good thing to do. And those of us who have had one at some point in your life, know that there’s nothing like that and there’s nothing worse that jumping into the battle and finding that no one’s with you. How did I get into this?
And the thing is, most people in leadership when they’re doing something new, are not 100% sure of what they’re doing, very rarely is a person 100% confident and having people saying, ‘I’m with you in this, heart and soul, 100%. I trust your vision, I trust your heart and I’m willing to put myself on the line to see what God’s going to do with this and to be an armor bearer.
And then they jump into it and they do it in classic military style. You’ve seen the movies, where there’s soldiers right there and there’s one facing one way and the other is facing the other way to cover each other’s back, it’s that kind of image here, where the armor bearer is behind Jonathan and he’s covering his back literally and just seeing to it that Jonathan is safe and that he’s ok. And that’s part of being an armor bearer, covering the reputation, the well-being of the person that you’re committed to serve.
God is looking for people who have that kind of heart, who are willing to encourage those that they’ve been called to serve, armor bearer. Now, how many of us know there are some bosses that are hard, it’s hard to carry their armor. There’s some supervisors who don’t inspire the same kind of confidence Jonathan did.
I’m going to leave the challenge that I believe that when we choose to be a faithful and encouraging supporter, a Barnabist for our boss, or our supervisor, even if that person has significant defects in character or in their plan, I believe there’s a blessing that comes. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in suffering in silence. I don’t believe we should just bite our tongue if we have an opinion we should share with a supervisor or a leader, that we think could be helpful. That’s not disloyalty. What I’m talking about is joining with the person saying, I may disagree with what you do but I am going to refrain from questioning why you do it.
I heard that phrase once and it really impacted me. Loyalty does not mean that you’re going to blindly say yes to anything without any disagreement. Loyalty means, we choose not to question the motives of those we’re serving. Dr Samuel Chance said that, he said, you can question what I do, but if you are loyal you won’t question why I do it. That’s between me and the Lord.
So, being an armor bearer, first way of encouraging people in leadership for you.
Second example I want to look at together, is in First Samuel 23 and this is the kind of encouragement that happens between peers, between friends, between people that are equals in life, that God has put with us. And interestingly, this example, and it’s another one of my favorite examples in scripture, also involves this biblical character, Jonathan. And I found myself asking the question, isn’t it an interesting you could say, coincidence, that two of my favorite examples of encouragement, both involve the same person. In one case he’s receiving encouragement, and in the other case he’s giving encouragement. And then I stopped to think, you know, I don’t think it’s an accident. I think it’s just a principle, a reality that we reap what we sow in life, that the best way to cultivate relationships that are encouraging is to be an encourager. How many of us know that? The best way to earn respect is to show respect. The best way to have people encourage you, there’s so many people walking around wanting to be encouraged, and that’s a natural human desire, but it’s the wrong orientation. The orientation should be, whom can I encourage today? Whom can I inspire to go forward in life? And then, the good will just comes back around.
So Jonathan, now we know that in the Bible Jonathan and David, King David, were best friends, but they were more than best friends, they were soul brothers. The Bible says that there came a point where the two of them became one in spirit virtually, they were so unified in their faith and in their heart for God and in their commitment for one another, like they became like brothers, like good friends.
How many people know the value of having a David or a Jonathan in your life? That kind of friendship of a person you can trust. And so they were with each other and it’s ironic because Jonathan was King Saul’s son. Now the history of it is, you’ve got King Saul, who’s a corrupt king, you’ve got David, whom God has called to replace him and now you’ve got Jonathan, Saul’s son. Now, technically, Jonathan as the king’s son is in line to become king. He’s the prince. And yet instead of that he chooses to recognize that God’s plan was not for him to be king, but for David to come along and be king. And they become very, very intimate close friends. And there comes a point when King Saul decides he doesn’t want to be replaced and he starts chasing David.
Many of us know the story: he pursued David and his men and David was fleeing and fleeing, and running away, and running through the dessert and hiding in caves and king Saul was chasing after him. Of course, this was long after they’ve had some individual confrontations. One night over dinner, because David was actually serving in the palace for a while, king Saul was so angry he threw his spear, sticking in the wall and David’s there ducking. They didn’t hate one another, but king Saul hated David and wanted him dead. And so he’s chasing him. Now, David, God had promised David that he would be the next king. God had told him through the prophet that that was his destiny, that was his future and yet, instead of becoming king, he finds himself fleeing and running away and having to hide in caves. And he doesn’t even have a normal army, he had men who were the rejects of society, former prisoners, gang bangers, joined up with him and he had this ragged tagged group of men and he was hiding out and King Saul had him virtually trapped. And he was hiding out in what the Bible, strongholds of Vinegety and he was cornered and he was trapped and he didn’t know what he was going to do.
How many of you have had experience in your life where you know God has made promises to you and God has a purpose for your life and yet it looks like it’s never going to happen? Things you know God’s with you and yet everything seems to be going against you and against what you thought God had for you. And there are the dead ends we hit in life for we just don’t know how it’s all going to sort out. And yet we feel like God has promised us good things and yet we just don’t see how it’s all going to work out.
David was in that kind of moment in his life, hiding out in the strongholds of En Gedi and we’re going to read what happens when he’s there in First Samuel, 23, verse 14 through 18.
“David stayed in the dessert strongholds and in the hills of the dessert of Ziph and day after day, Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands. And while David was at Horesh in the dessert of Ziph learned that Saul had come out to take his life and Saul’s son, Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. ‘Don’t be afraid, he said, my father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel and I will be second to you even my father Saul knows this’, and the two of them made a covenant before the Lord and then Jonathan went home but David remained at Horesh.”
In that moment where David was trapped, he was at a low point. Jonathan went and found him and had a conversation with him and I love what he tells him. Well, I love what the scripture says he did, it says, he helped him find strength in God.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a moment where you feel like you are just out of gas spiritually, and you don’t know where the strength is going to come from and that’s the moment when God needs to send a Jonathan to you, a Barnabus, an encourager. And he comes to him and helps him find strength in God, and how does he do it? He does it by reminding him of some things. He says, don’t be afraid, I love what he says here.
He says, “… don’t be afraid, my father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel”.
There’s moments when we need to know what God has called our friends to do and the promises that God has given to our friends, and the good purposes and intentions that he has for them. I want you to think about that right now. Think about some of the friends in your life that God has given you. Do you feel like you know what some of the good promises are that God has for them, some of the good purposes that God has for them? If you don’t, one way to be a good friend is to discover and to find out and to pray about it and to feel, what is it that God is calling him or her to do? What are the promises that God has for this person? Because there will come a moment when everything is going wrong, and he or she will need you to come and find them and situation down and say, don’t worry, in this case, you will be king.
You see, Jonathan wasn’t there when the prophet Samuel gave him the prophetic word, but he’d heard about it and he believed it. And he said, you will be king. It’s going to happen. We don’t know how, and it doesn’t look like it right now but God will fulfill the good purpose that he has for you. He will do it and I will be second to you, that’s amazing right there, the humility, the willingness to be second, that’s a very impressive thing. But what he’s saying there is not just that you’ll get through this, he’s saying, we’ll get through this. I’ll be right there behind you and when you get through this, not if, but when you get through this I’ll be right there cheering you on, and we’ll say, look what God has done.
That’s a beautiful thing to say to someone. I don’t know if you’ve had someone do that for you at a dark moment, a person that God sends and brings and says, don’t worry, we’re going to get through this. God is going to fulfill his purpose for you, and we don’t know how and it doesn’t look good right now but I know that God is with you, and I know the things he’s done in your life and I know the purposes some of them, that he has for you, and I know that he’ll fulfill those purposes, and when he does, I’ll be right there cheering you on.
I challenge you to be a friend. Now, we all need friends like that, God knows, and how many know there’s been moments when we feel like we need a friend like that, and there’s no one there, and that’s because God is saying, no, no, no, it’s time for you just to find strength in me by yourself this time. But what we need to do is have the mentality of looking for the people who need a word of encouragement, people who need to hear that God is with them and he’ll fulfill his purpose in their lives. Being an encouraging friend.
Now, let’s skip up ahead to Barnabus, the Book of Acts, jump up with me to the Book of Acts, Barnabus means, son of encouragement. Now, Barnabus was the kind of man that was chosen to go to the people who most needed to feel included and encouraged in the body of Christ in the early church. At that time, all the Christians at first were Christian Jews, they were Christian Jews for the most parts, Jews who had come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but then during a persecution people went out from Jerusalem and they started preaching to gentiles, or even worse, to Samarians, people who were mixed, Jews and gentiles. Now, these were people who they thought were excluded, but some people started preaching to them and they started becoming Christians.
So, the Apostles just had it, well, who are going to send to explore this? And let’s send Barnabus. And so Barnabus was the one they chose to go and to visit the gentiles and to discern what God was doing and to affirm that and to help this group of people feel included in the move of God, of what God was doing at that time. So Barnabus was that kind of man.
Now, I want to focus on two particular relationships that Barnabus had and one of them we read about in Acts 9, verse 26. Now there we read about the Apostle Paul, ok?. Now what did the Apostle Paul do before he was a Christian? Any remember? What was the Apostle Paul’s job before he was a Christian? Killing Christians, that was his job. What do you do for a living? I kill Christians. That was his job. He persecuted the church, he was a Pharisee, he was a Jewish religious leader who believed that the Christians were a horrible sect that needed to be stamped out. He was personally responsible for the arrest and murder of Christians.
Now, we all know the story, one day, he’s on his horse and bam…. Lighting bolt knocks him off his horse, a voice says, and at that time his name was Saul, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I’m Jesus, whom you’re persecuting and Paul was struck blind for 3 days and then finally some Christian came and prayed for him, he received the Holy Spirit, he received his sight and he became Paul. He got a new name, Paul. And so he is converted and he becomes a Christians, and so he comes and tries to meet the Apostles, he’s like, I’m a Christian now. I believe. I agree with you guys, now.
How did the Apostles respond? Does anyone remember? How did they respond? Did they throw him a party? Are they all excited? Do they invite him to preach that night? I don’t know if you’ve had the experience. I mean, there are some people in our church who have conversion experiences that are so dramatic that people don’t want to believe it. They don’t want to believe it because it’s such a….. They respond with mistrust. They don’t believe it. They don’t believe what happened. They’re suspicious of him.
Now, let’s look what happens in verse 26. It says: “…. When he, Paul, came to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabus took him and brought him to the Apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him and how in Damascus he had spoken, he had preached fiercely in the name of Jesus and so Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
So, Barnabus when everyone else didn’t want anything to do with Paul, Barnabus was the one to give him a change. Barnabus was the one to say, let’s not give up on him just yet. And I wanted to start by pointing out something, how quick are you to give a person a chance that maybe otherwise would be suspicious of that person?
You know, pastor Roberto isn’t here tonight, I think he’s in Spain, I don’t know, he’s somewhere around. He’s in a secret undisclosed location. Pastor Roberto isn’t here. I remember, and I think I can share this for this is really not a confidential thing. But we were discussing a certain leader that was being considered for a particular position and there were all kinds of opinions and reasons why perhaps that person wouldn’t be good for the job and then there was a pause in the conversation and someone said, but wait a minute, is any of us here qualified for the job we’re doing? Is there any one of us who really deserved to become a deacon or a pastor in Lion of Judah. And we were looking at each other shaking our hands, and I said, we’re a bunch of misfits that have been given a chance. Because the senior pastor has a gift of discernment and a gift of Barnabus and he’s willing to see potential in people that other people don’t see potentially and he’s willing to give them a chance. That’s part of why Lion of Judah is the church it is, because pastor Roberto is discerning and gracious and generous enough who let people who don’t deserve it, have a chance and then watching how we grow and become the people that God has meant us to be.
Most often we’re not like that. We’re quick to cut off heads. God is calling us to be a Barnabus and to see, ok, I know he used to kill Christians, ok, just last week, but let’s give him a chance. Just think that, I mean, there must ….. Barnabus you’re too soft, you’re crazy. Tu eres muy bueno. You’re naive and you’re letting yourself get suckered in. And Barnabus says, no, I think I see potential in this man.
And he brings him to the Apostles and he says, he tells the story about he’d heard he’s been knocked off his horse and he’d been met by the Lord and how he preached. How did Barnabus know all this about Paul? How did he know all these stories about his testimony? How do you think? What must have happened for Barnabus to know his story, all that had happened to him? He must have listened to him. He must have taken some time to say, tell me your story. And he must have taken some time to really hear what had happened and to set his own prejudices and biases aside and say, ‘God, what are you doing in this man’s life?’
I believe in order to be a true encourager in the Christian world we need to have a gift of discernment or an ability or a willingness to discern what God is doing in the life of that person, and to listen to their story and to care about it and to see that you know, even though this person comes from a crazy background, I see God at work in this person’s life and I see potential in this person. Isn’t it a beautiful thing when someone sees potential in you and appreciates that, what you could become?
You know, throughout the Bible God often gives people new names based on the prophetic potential that he sees in them. And you know, I’d never really noticed this before, I don’t know how I came across it recently, but Moses had a certain helper. He had a disciples, Moses was a mentor for someone who took his place, that person’s name was Joshua. Did you ever know that Joshua wasn’t his original name? What was his original name? 5 cents for anyone who knows it. What was Joshua’s original name? Anyone know? If you know I would be really pressed because I totally didn’t know. It was Hoshea, it sounds a lot like Joshua but it’s different. Moses changed his name to Joshua. Joshua has a meaning. Does anyone know what it means? What Joshua means? Jehovah saves, the Lord is my salvation.
Now, Joshua replaced Moses and became a great military leader that lead the conquest to the promised land. God saved through Joshua, his mission was to live out the salvation of God for Israel on earth, that was his purpose. Moses knew this kid, Hoshea, who’s helping with my bags, is going to be used by God for the salvation of Israel, so change his name from Hoshea to Joshua, prophetically, seeing the potential he had and God does that throughout scripture.
Abraham, ok, what was his name before being Abraham, anyone know? You didn’t know you were going to get a Bible quiz, I’m sorry. What was it before Abraham, what was it? Abram, God changed it, even though he was an old man who was unable to have kids, he and his wife, God changed his name to Abraham which means, ‘father of nations’, because God says ‘I see a future for you, you’re going to become the father of many nations’. Prophetic name.
Jesus with Peter. Peter’s original name wasn’t Peter. It was Simon, but Jesus met him and said, you know, I see a Peter in you. Peter in Greek means ‘rock’, the rock, and Jesus said, this is Peter, the rock and on this rock I’ll build my church. He’s going to become a solid, stable leader, because Jesus saw the potential in him.
Barnabus was like that with Paul. He saw the potential in Paul and he was willing to give him a chance and to be an encouraging mentor in his life. Now, that’s a beautiful thing because we often don’t think of Barnabus. But if it weren’t for Barnabus no Paul, no Paul. But you know, they started then, Paul came, he started doing his thing. Things didn’t work out because Paul was real raw at first, he was right out of his past, he was real raw, his ministry just didn’t work. He ended back going back to Tarsus and he was ready to just move back home and give it up. And after a few chapters, I don’t know how much times allows, Barnabus, the Bible says, went to Tarsus and he found Paul, and he spent, how long was it? Was it a year, 3 years? He spent a long time with Paul, like a long time, several months, more than a year, talking and getting to know Paul, mentoring and discipling him, and helping him become the man of God he was meant to be.
And then, when they went on missionary trips, it was Barnabus and Paul together. You know, it’s interesting, because when they were preaching in one town, where did some miracles, God used them to do all kinds of miracles, and people on the town, thought they were gods. They believed in the Greek gods, you know, and they wanted to offer them sacrifices and they called Paul, Hermes, because Hermes was the God that speaks and then they called Barnabus, Zeus, because even though he doesn’t talk much, we can tell who the leader is here, we can tell who the mature one is.
Now, thankfully they didn’t take the sacrifices, but what impresses me there is that Barnabus is in a quiet way projected a leadership that allowed Paul to grow and become the man of God that he was meant to be. Paul needed a Barnabus and he found one, and that’s why he became the man he was.
Now, the second story with Barnabus that happens is eventually Paul and Barnabus together going on their missionary trips, they take along Barnabus’ nephew, his name was John, and they take him along on a missionary journey. But everything didn’t go too well on the trip. There was opposition, there were problems, there were difficulties, persecution and so, what do you think John, this kid, he was a teenager at that point probably, what do you think he does when the times got tough, this kid who wanted to learn how to be a missionary, what do you think he did? Any guesses? He quit.
Has anyone here ever quit something? You don’t have to raise your hand, oh, someone did. God bless you. John quit, ok?, and so he went home. Now, some time later they’re about to go on another trip and nephew John decides he wants to give it another try. He wants to try to go again and Barnabus….
Now, Paul, knowing Paul’s temperament, kind of fiery and intense, how do you think Paul reacted to little nephew John coming along again? How do you think he reacted to that? Off with his head. He failed us once, I’m not going to trust him again. This kid isn’t worth it. Knowing what we know about Barnabus, how do you think Barnabus responded? How do you think he responded? What do you think? He went with John, he said, let’s give him a chance. And Paul said, no way, this kid failed us, we’re not going to give him another chance. And Barnabus said, come on, I see potential in this kid, and it’s not just because he is my nephew. I see potential in him and so they had a sharp dispute, the Bible says, that they parted company and went separate directions. Paul took Silas, another good guy, and Barnabus took John.
Now, John eventually kept serving and ended up becoming a Christian leader and he had another name. Ok, I’ll offer a quarter for this one, what was John’s other name? Mark as in the gospel of Mark. This kid that failed, this kid that Paul just wanted to…. ended up writing a gospel in the Bible. He became a great man of God and Paul himself at one point says, ‘please I want Mark to serve with me, he’s useful in my ministry’. He wrote that in the Bible, in one of the letters, he asked them to send Mark along to help him. And why was that? Because Mark thank God had a Barnabus.
Now, if asked Christians, most Christians they’ve heard of the Apostle Paul, and they’ve heard of Mark because of the gospel of Mark, not too many have heard of Barnabus, but Barnabus was the man behind them. So I want to, and I invite the musicians to come on up and start getting settled.
But I want to challenge you in this: who were the people, the Marks, in your life, the Johns and Marks? Who were the people that you could inspire to great things? And I think all of us have, I mean, I think any kid in our life would qualify for that role. We all have kids in our life, maybe you may not have children of your own, but you’ve got nieces, nephews, your friends’ kids, kids in church, we’ve all got children in our life. You know, how much a kid needs someone to believe in him or her? A kid needs someone to look at and say, ‘kid, I think you’ve got what it takes. I think you’ve got potential’. But they need to hear that from someone who’s not just saying it, but who has the spiritual discernment to know that it’s true and to believe it and to see and to affirm it in them. Guau, what a difference, when someone looks at you and says, you know, I see what God has given you and you’ve got potential. I believe in the Lord, but I believe in you too, I believe in what God has given you and I know that you’ve got what it takes to become all that God wants you to be.
There may be people in the church, new believers, who are just coming in who need you to be a Barnabus for them. And I’d encourage you to start closest to home, the people you life with, your family, your spouse if you have one, your friends, your room mates, the people who are close to you in your life, your parents and to be a Barnabus for them. To let God speak to you about other people’s lives and other people’s abilities and potential and to see what God sees in them and to see them with eyes of faith, to choose to overlook all the defects that are glaringly obvious.
Little John Mark had a lot of glaringly obvious defects, he had failed. He deserved to be rejected when he wanted to come up. He deserved that but Barnabus shows not to look at his defects but instead to look at his potential. Now, especially for people who are discerning, who have an ability to understand and to sort of see into a person. Very often it’s easy for people like that to be very, very critical, because in your discernment you see what’s wrong with the person who’s in front of you, you see their defects, you see their faults and you could focus on that if you choose to, but people with insight and discernment in Christ, if they choose, they can choose to see all that but to sort of just not see it. What I mean by that is, it’s sort of a little…. I don’t want to say we play games with ourselves, but….. I used to play cribbage with a very old man, he was 100 years old in fact, and I used to play cribbage with him every week when I was a kid in high school, and he would hold the cards way out, way out so that he could see them, he had to hold them against light, his whole hand. I was right there. I mean, the whole thing, and I somehow learned to just…. To see the cards and not see them and to play the hand as if…. To just choose to not register what was just in front of my eyes.
You know, that can be bad if we allow ourselves to be naïve or blind to certain things, but that’s a very good skill to learn if we want to become a Barnabus in people’s life. The defects are there, they’re screaming at you in the face: there they are! But you choose to just not let it register and instead all the energy of your discernment and your insight as a person and also spiritually you choose to see the potential that this person has in the Kingdom of God, the good that God has put in this person and you choose to focus and swell on that.
When I perform weddings, I challenge the spouses to do this. And I say, choose to see them with eyes of faith because he or she will grow to become more and more what he is in your eyes, and that is so true. You see people as a Barnabus and you just may have an Apostle Paul in front of you. you may have a Mark sitting right in front of you, but that person is waiting for somebody to see them and to believe in them. Be an armor bearer for the people who are leaders in your life. Say, look, you may not know what you’re doing completely, but I’m with you heart and soul and I’m not going to leave you high and dry. Be a friend who reminds your other friends of God’s purpose in their life and say, you will get there and I’m going to be there to cheer you on when you do.
Are you up for it? You’re willing to be a Barnabus. I challenge you. There’s a need for Barnabus in the body of Christ, for spirit of encouragement, inspiring people to great things. So let’s pray.
I invite you to stand up and we’ll close this time for the Lord and we’ll just enter to prayer for a second here. Father, in Jesus’ name, I thank you that you have chosen to see us with the eyes of mercy and eyes of love and graciousness. And Father, I pray that you will unleash a spirit of encouragement in the body of Christ. Lord God that we would be people who spur other on to great things.
And I want you now to think of some people in your life, just with your eyes close and in a spirit of prayer, to think of somebody who’s in leadership in your life. It could be, as I said before, it could be your employer, your supervisor, it could be a spiritual leader of some sort, some sort of leader in your life. It could be your spouse and I want you to visualize yourself by their side saying, I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. De aquí no me muevo. I’m with you heart and soul. Inspire them to do what they’re called to do. And I want you to think of a friend you have in your life now, one or two, just a friend, do you really know what some of the promises of God are in that person’s life? I encourage you to try to feel in your bones that God has a purpose for that person’s life, for that friend, and then to seek opportunities to express that to them.
And now I want you to think of a person that you could take under your wing, it could be a kid, it could be a child, it could be a baby, it could be a new believer, it could be someone at work who’s just new or in the business thing, a person who needs someone to take them under their wing, and to take them along.
And I want you to think, can I be a Barnabus for them? Can I be a Barnabus for that person?
Father, I pray in Jesus’ name, God, that in each of these individuals that we have in our mind, Lord God that you would help us to encourage them. So let’s consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, let us not give up meeting together, some are in the habit of doing but let us encourage one another and all the more as you say the day approaching.
Father, I pray in Jesus’ name, God , that you would give this week opportunities, Lord God to each one of us here, to be a Barnabus. I pray that you would give us the vision, the discernment, the heart, the sincerity, the ears to listen and the words to speak at the right moment. I pray this week for some Barnabus’ moments that you would provide for us, Lord God.
And I thank you… and now I want to do one other little thing before we enter into a song, keep your eyes closed, keep praying. I want you to think of somebody in your life who has been a Barnabus for you, somebody who has encouraged you in some way at some point, who’s spoken encouragement into your life. And just thank God for now.
Father, I thank you. I thank you for the ones you put in my life, Lord God. Father, they’re a gift from you, they’re a gift from you and they’re part of why I am the person I am today and I want to be an encouraging like that.
Father we thank you, we seal this message before you in Jesus’ name. Amen.