On this instalment of the Courage Series, pastor David explores the life of Barnabas, highlighting his role during the birth of the church. Nicknamed "Son of Encouragement," Barnabas exemplified humility, generosity, and second chances. Lessons drawn include taking risks, offering support, and relying on God on difficult times.
Well we're continuing in our integrated study we're looking at this man called Barnabas today what our integrated study is if you're not sure we third term of each year our local fake right right studies and these studies we we preach on our small groups look at them and study them as well at our kids church looking at them and all of that so it might be well I was going to say it might be too late to get really involved might be a bit late to get involved in a small group but all the sermons are online and so if you haven't got a book and you do want to catch up you can certainly grab a book or find out how you can get a book at the desk out there and hope that you are taking notes as we go as well if you've got your Bible say you might like to turn it to Acts chapter 4. a few weeks ago Ann and I went to Townsville to attend a funeral of a friend we took a couple of days so we we drove up and drove back and about half an hour this side of Townsville is uh there's a little town called Guru has anybody heard of Guru oh some have fantastic um it's not actually on the highway it's not far off the highway there's um like a Sugar Mill there and sugar time you can see the the smoke coming out from the mill and you can see the turn off to to Guru well not many people have heard of this place called Guru g-i-r-u and so like a hundred years ago when I was a young fella and I joined the army there was um there's one of the the other guys who joined the army saying time as me he was from Guru and so when we're introducing ourselves around the place he said that he was from Guru and um so guess what nobody had heard of Guru and need some explanation but that became his nickname he was from then on he was just known as Guru and so when we're in Bowen when I was pastoring there a few years ago periodically go to town so I'd see the turn off to Guru and every time we go past this turn off or siguru I think of this character cool who was in the army with called Guru you know what I'm glad if I know what his real name was um he was always just known as Guru and um and I can picture him in my mind as he appeared back in those days that we're just young fellas I haven't seen him since we've lost contact but I can picture him in my mind what he looked like he was a fellow Apprentice I did my apprenticeship in electronics he did his he was uh he was a carpenter so I remember all of that he's from Guru his nickname is Gary but what's his name wouldn't have a clue but that's what nicknames are all about um years ago there was a cricket commentator in Australia he's now since passed away many years ago called Alan mcgilvres anybody he'll just show your age yep you remember Alan mcgilvray he used to talk and talk and talk and my dad had a nickname for him he used to call him Swampy and he called him swampy because according to my dad he never dried up uh and just used to talk and talk and talk as part of his commentary and um and so he was called swampy and I wonder I had a family nickname which I'm not going to tell you what it was but over the years being called a lot of a lot of things most of them are right but some of them you don't want to remember but anybody have a nickname or been yeah be called nickname some again put their hand up I know others were and you're just not going to put your hand up in case I ask you what it was and I'm not going to do that the thing is is that sometimes we get known by our nicknames and our nicknames identifiers might be from where we're from what might represent something of our nature and our character and a lot of people don't recognize this but we're looking at this man called Barnabas today and I don't know how many of us realize that Barnabas was not his name but Barnabas was his nickname so hands up all those don't call it there but hands up all those without looking at the Bible hands up all those who know what his real name was okay so it's a yeah three or four Alan grieve does but he's the past and pastors like if he's here they know everything of course except for me I sort of failed anyway that's it by the bye so it ends up all those who've heard of Barnabas everybody's heard of Barnabas but not everybody realized that that's his nickname and in this first reading going to do these three readings which are just three uh three snapshots three uh whatever snapshots will do of uh of the life of Barnabas that we will be looking at today okay and well I wanted to do the introduction before this is because in this very first reading we find out what his real name was okay so Acts Chapter 4 verses 36 and 37. so the first word the peace in verse 36 is Joseph Joseph A levite from the apostles called Barnabas which means the son of encouragement sold the field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles feet so whenever anybody says what was barnabas's real name you can be all say his real name was Joseph that's right okay so that's 4 36 and 37 over to chapter nine and verses 26 and 27. read read these verses there when he that's Saul who became Paul when he came to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples that they're all afraid of him not believing that he really was a disciple but Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles he told him how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus so he's called Joseph his real name that's what mum and dad called him but his nickname Barnabas which means the son of encouragement is this nickname which defined the man then over in chapter 15 just another snapshot in the life of Barnabas chapter 15 verses 36 to 40 reads this way sometime later Paul said to Barnabas let's go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preach the word of the Lord and see how they are doing Barnabas wanted to take John also called Mark but also called Mark with them but Paul did not think it was to take him because he had deserted them in pamphilia and had not continued with them in the work that such a sharp disagreement that they parted company Barnabas took Mark John Mark and cell for Cyprus but Paul chose Silas and left commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord so this reached snapshots into the life of uh of this man Barnabas he mentions he's mentioned a lot in the in the early parts of Acts and what a significant character it is but often undervalued or underrated as well so the study that we have been looking at we've named this study courage that we've titled it in the subtitle living for God in difficult times I just want to remind you of the difficult times of the background into in in this area in this time in which Barnabas lived and and sometimes because we read the Bible and we know the outcomes and we know the story we just gloss over it so quickly without stopping and thinking and taking in and realizing how tough this time really was you see this was a momentous time in history never never happened before and never to be repeated again and so here are these disciples in the early church processing this um this this whole significance of Jesus about the Incarnation that Jesus was fully godfully man coming and living amongst them not only living amongst them but engaging in this in this close relationship with them how how would you go processing that and I lived with him for these three years and heard his teaching and his claims and and still continuing to process the depth of all of that about his death and his resurrection and last week we looked at Thomas and remember the struggles that he had in processing this this resurrection of the Lord Jesus and then after that the disciples are standing there talking with Jesus and he ascends into heaven now these um events which changed the world certainly prophesied and we look back if we can uh we are aware of them but just think imagine for a moment what it would be like living through all of that and and just the overload of information and and trying to take it all in of what all this meant and so and so there's this background of the early church struggling with that which Barnabas was a key part not only that but then there's the the Pentecost the church is born and while we take church for granted this is a brand new institution which is being which has been brought about and we know what it's like in church we just take so much for granted and one of the churches I pastored in Bowen um I was the uh my predecessor planted the church in Bowen I was the the second Pastor so the church planted then I was there most of the people in the church were brand new converts it was an exciting place to minister but I'll tell you what it was difficult in the sense that everything for these folk for most of the folk in the church everything for them was brand new and so whenever we said let's do something they'd say well what's what's that remember saying you know we often are aware that the pastor's house is called a man's well let's gather at the man's yeah great idea what's demands um yeah let's have a church picnic but what's a church picnic what what happens there and so everything just about that we did there we had to explain right from the beginning because this was brand new for them but imagine what it was like 2 000 years ago when the church was just first brought into being on that day of Pentecost where everything was brand new the whole system of how church was being done leadership all of these things are was just so difficult for them and not only that but we're aware that there are thousands of people coming to Faith and so dealing with all these new converts and in the midst of all of this there's Christians are being persecuted and of course being put to death being martyred for no other reason than they were followers of Jesus so when we stop it we consider this we can understand that Barnabas is the person who's living in difficult times in challenging times but one who stood tall in the church and one whom we can learn much from today so what do we know about Barnabas so you're of just a few things about Barnabas that we are just going to gloss over so born in Cyprus so he's a Jewish born in Cyprus at the tribe of Levi so he's a Levi Chief priests priests and Levites and we're not going to go to all of that if you want to you can do some of that of your own in your own time but he was a man who's born in Cyprus his actual neighbors we've already seen his name was Joseph but he's a man who had his values right um he he had his values right in relationship to other people because um because we know just by that name Barnabas the son of encouragement we're going to look at that in a bit more detail of course but but if you wanted to be encouraged he was the man to be around Barnabas is a character who you could always guarantee that when you near him you're going to come away a different person because you've been encouraged by him so his values regarding people and we see that he actually placed people ahead of himself saw others as being more important than himself in our family devotions that's where Ann and I reading and it talked about working through Proverbs and talked about how how these days kids are told that you can be whatever you want to be and how inaccurate that is because that's just not so but but also another part of today ethos is who's number one in life I am but that's not that's not the Christian ethic that's not the way God operates um remember we're seeing you some of you won't remember because you're not old like me but Mr seeing this chorus about j-o-y Joe White must surely be and that the joy units have joy there's something about priorities what was it Jesus first your self last and others in between and that tells us something about the priority that God has and that was certainly the priority of Barnabas that he he obviously didn't sing that that chorus that was always Jesus first others next in himself last and that's why he got this nickname Barnabas he's just he's such an encouraging character this Barnabas that not only is his values right in regard to other people but its values were right in regard to material positions as well since they're in verses 36 37 chapter 4 that that he sold a property that he owned brought the money and put it the apostles feet and if we had time to read on into chapter five the example of ananias and Safari solder property kept the mates very different story very different story from Barnabas just by the way we're talking about Barnabas being being his nickname if people were to observe your life and to give you a nickname about the way that you live your life I wonder what that might be I wonder what you would like it to be anyway that's something to be thinking about so born actual name right values and he had a reputation this is the reputation that that was said about him in Acts chapter 11 24 speaking about it I said he was a good man he's a good man full of the holy spirit that is fully under the control of the Holy Spirit and Faith full of Faith as well I periodically in my role and probably many of you do as well have to do a reference for other people and and wouldn't it be great to be able to write that reference about somebody who's somebody who's a good man a good woman full of the Holy Spirit and faith tell you what that's something for each of us to Aspire to that others when they're thinking of us might say that about us we don't know exactly how he died but tradition says that he died a martyr and one of the Traditions the most common tradition said that he was he was punished that he was went through all sorts of things and then I took him out and they stoned him to death so here is this man called the son of encouragement in Acts chapter 4 and verse 36. this is what we want to be focusing on today because this is what Barnabas is noted for that he's the son of encouragement the way we're thinking of encouragement what does encouragement mean encouragement means to fill someone with courage that's what this study is about this is why he's so important in our study living with courage in difficult circumstances um and and so this is Barnabas that in these difficult circumstances he was able to fill others with courage or strength to give support to them confidence or hope to somebody now I just want to do just a little greek exercise for you here because the Greek word that says about he's the son of encouragement the word encouragement there is paraclasis is the is the word there and and that word appears in other places but one place where I want us to look at where it uh where it's mentioned is John chapter 14 and verse 16. and says this in verse 16 Jesus is speaking to the disciples verse 15 says if you love me you will obey what I command and I'll ask the father and he will give you another what another pair of cases is the Greek word which is mentioned lady so the Bible NIV he says counselor at different translations use different words there so there's this sense where where Barnabas is um is showing this this Holy Spirit characteristic as it were that the son of encouragement that that just as the spirit is given to us I'll call I'll ask the father he'll give you another comfort of the spirit the Holy Spirit who's given to us the spirit of paraclesis the spirit of encouragement is that it's also said a Barnabas that he is the son of paraclesis isn't it fascinating well I find that fascinating I hope you do too is that that something about the god-like qualities of the characteristics that are there so he's the son of encouragement he's the person filling others with courage strength giving support confidence or hope to somebody now I want to give you two examples of where he did this first one we've well we've read about both of them but uh but one we want to read or read about the first one I want to look at is Barnabas encouraging Saul or Paul if we flip over in our Bibles to Acts chapter nine then that those couple of verses which I read about about Saul who became poor and the pivotal part that Barnabas had in his life you see we don't really need to be reminded about Saul how he was Christian he was Enemy Number One as far as the the church was concerned maybe how it says Saul went out breathing threats and getting letters so that he could capture all the Christians bring them in have them persecute have them punished have them put to death this was Saul no wonder the Christians were scared of him and then he had this amazing encounter with the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus and he became a believer which those who were there and and whatever these that they're aware of this and they see this change in Saul but then he goes to Jerusalem and they just not so sure about this character and I think we're not sure about Saul about this character we um well we're not don't really want to welcome him into our church just yet they thought he was just tricking them I thought well we've heard of his reputation we know some of our friends and relatives have been captured by you saw and been someone probably even put to death and now you want to come and be one of us we are just not so sure and then what happens there while he's rejected by the church the disciples there in Jerusalem Along Comes Who Joseph who is he he's the son of encouragement he's the one he's a rescuer and it says about him in in Acts chapter 9 and verse 27 which we read that there are a few moments earlier Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles he told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord the Lord had spoken to him and how in Damascus he'd preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus be great to have a friend like that um somebody who might be initially rejected by the church by the disciples somebody goes and gets alongside of them and brings them in do you know anybody who's marginalized and unnecessarily an unwarranted way um could you be a Barnabas to someone like that and to go along and get alongside bring them in introduce hey actually this person this man this woman this young person is actually a good character or maybe even today you need a Barnabas somebody who'll come along and and be that person for you so he's part of this living in these difficult times seeing that that there's this man saw who um who who's come to a genuine Faith takes him along and introduces him to the church not only in that introduction but he disciples him takes them and Saul and Barnabas Paul and barnabasco on the missionary journey one of the ones I was reading this week talked about Paul's three missionary Journeys but rightly in mind if you said that first missionary journey should not be called Paul's missionary G that should be called barnabas's missionary journey because Barnabas led the way initially of course and uh and and he was the clearly the team leader and and discipling Paul and this is how you do missionary stuff it wasn't long before Paul his giftedness is calling gave a wording is Dave points out in the study changes in Acts from Barnabas and Paul to Paul and Barnabas signifying that there's this change here and so this this person who Barnabas welcomes him through this encouragement comes Paul he becomes the great missionary and is responsible under the power of God in the inspiration of the spirit writing about a third of the New Testament how indebted are we to Barnabas in human terms for what he did to the Apostle uh to Saul to pull but there's another character where Barnabas was key as well and this is this character called John Mark and we have his story in um in Acts chapter 15 which we also read is the third shot snapshot this morning Colossians 4 10 tells us that John Mark was a cousin to Barnabas so Barnabas and John Mark cousins Colossians tells us that one of the missionary Journeys they went on the Bible tells acts 12 25 35 tells us that John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the missionary journey and then it says in in chapter 13 verse 13 that the John Mark clears out on he jumped ship and when we read acts 13 verse 13 there it just tells us that John Mark left them however later on we get this this idea that that he deserted the ship he went AWOL he disappeared when he shouldn't he deserted them when he when he should have stuck around and so he cleared out and left Paul and Barnabas just to continue on the journey and so later on in Acts chapter 15 and verse 37 Paul says to buzz hey let's go back and do a revisit and Barnabas is great idea let's take John Mark with us Paul says one strike you're out mate you've given your chance you fail on your bike you're never coming back what's Barnabas do he's sticking up for him and while it's not recorded here I wonder whether Barnabas actually said to Paul Paul remember you were rejected and I welcomed you in now here's somebody else we have the opportunity to do the same thing for now whether you said that we don't know but you get the picture here but Paul sticks by his guns and says there is no way there is absolutely no way that John Mark is going to join us again Barnabas the son of encouragement is so convinced that this man John Mark deserves a second chance said well let's go our separate ways Barnabas uh Paul took took uh Silas and Barnabas hooked up welcome back hi John Mark I'm willing to give you a second chance um directed by God I reckon maybe here today there are people who need a second chance or a third chance or a fourth chance God will give you as many chances as the required fake but maybe there is somebody who you know who struggled and may have even been a failure in one area or another you could be a Barnabas too and say Hey listen I reckon you deserve another guy to be a Barnabas to that person and later on the Bible tells us it shows there in a couple of verses couple of references that later on Paul and John Mark were reconciled and Paul just speaks so highly of John Mark in those later things so obviously Barnabas is sticking his neck out for John Mark worked now Barnabas stuck out for him Paul Wright the third in the New Testament or thereabouts what about John Mark well you know what more than likely more than likely here's the guy who wrote Mark's gospel shorter 7 16 chapters and often when we read the life of Jesus in a snapshot just read Mark's gospel Mark just gets straight into his favorite words it's immediately immediately this happened immediately But but so precious so important maybe the other gospel writers who write after that even laid heavily on that for their research so isn't Barnabas a key character just in those two areas in bringing back Paul and how important he was bringing back John Mark and how important he was but that's just two outstanding examples because even before all both of these incidents he was already known as son of encouragement it's already encourager and and here just to highlighted examples thought of some things that we can learn from um from Courage in in difficult times I've just got six lessons and I'm sure that in your home group or studying on your own that you'll come up with a lot more than these and let me know what other ones you come up with here are six things that I want to say about Barnabas firstly about his humility you know the thing that surprises me about him who's happy for the focus to be on others never in the book of Acts do you read about Barnabas trying to attract attention to himself but he was there encouraging others and pushing others out so they get the attention in fact we can do that we can it's difficult but to to put others to let the Highlight the the light shine on others and we don't get the credit secondly his generosity and his generosity comes out of this whole attitude of putting others in front of himself that's shown in both with Paul and John Mark but it's also shown in selling his property and giving the money to the poor giving the money to the church for helping the poor thirdly he was always there using every opportunity to proclaim the kingdom of God so I wasn't just concerned for others about the the material needs but concern about their spiritual needs as well fourthly he took risks he's a risk taker he lived in this time when Christians were being put to death and more than likely he was barted but he also took a risk in ministry as well what a risk it is to actually to go to pool and say Paul put my arm around you welcome you into the church or to go to John Mark and say yep you did fail once and you failed miserably Mike I want to give you another chance he took the risks and the second chance that he gave others the second opportunity was never this case of one strike and you're out but Hey listen it's all right making a mistake you've learned one thing that doesn't work now come back and let's let's get on with it and finally in my list of six who were so God dependent dependent on God in the directions that he went but also evidence in prayer okay so now I want to talk to each of us and to me too why do we look at the life of Barnabas you see when we speak here on a Sunday it is not just to fill our head with knowledge and to be able to go home and say oh get that sermon three out of ten or six out of ten or whatever out of ten or you know who's a bit off today who's on Mark or whatever but you know the Bible is God's thoughts in writing to us this is God's word to us and so the whole thing the whole aspect of looking at the example of Barnabas is to say where's the Barnabas in you and so I'm going to give you some homework to do today and here's the homework which I'm giving to you and I'm also giving to me is Will okay get your phones out take the photo write it down do whatever you need to or it'll be online here's the homework that you need to do number one they said I want you to identify somewhere between three and five minimum three and go for five and you may come up with more people in your network so this might be family members might be a friend it might be a neighbor it might be a work colleague might be whoever I just want you to identify three to five people and and I want you to work out this week under God to be praying about to be a Barnabas and to work out how you might encourage these three to five people this week okay that's your homework so here's how you can do it you can speak to them face to face buy them a coffee you might want to phone them and have a word of encouragement to them you might write a letter if anybody still knows how to write a letter and how much the stamps cost it's always precious receiving something or send them a text an email or there's other ways of communicating which is beyond me and my limited whatever but that's homework this week so Hey listen if Barnabas was such an encouragement and what an impact that it had on these two characters and on the rest of the church that he's caught the son of encouragement that I'm encouraging you not encouraging to say folk do it this is what it's there for and I want to say this it's not just a good idea this but this is how God wants us to live and not just to live this week but this is how he wants us to live always and next week folk guess who's preaching me guess who's going to check on whether you've done your homework not me I'm not going to check up on you that's between you and God and it's this is just my exercise my encouragement to you to just to think about doing it and to think why not and just to think hey if I'm on the receiving end of that you may or may not be that's okay but just think of how much encouragement you would get out of getting something like this so this is your opportunity Jesus first yourself last others in between be a blessing to three to five or more other folk this week maybe not just this week but even Beyond do you reckon you can do that you reckon you can sure another is a bit hesitant I actually have to do something here yes you do fine that's what God expects let's pray well we recognize this man called Joseph mum and dad gave him the name Joseph but the church by his reputation gave him the name Barnabas son of paraclesis just like the Lord Jesus said I'm not going to send somebody else another parrot place it's just like the Lord Jesus was we thank you for the indwelling spirit in US as we believe in you and we pray that that indwelling spirit May Minister not only to us but through us in guarding and directing us to three to five people and directing Us in the words to say and the way to say them to bring encouragement to others even this week and Beyond for this sake but for Jesus sake and if there's a blessing in it for us for our sake too. Amen.