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Encourage Me!

Encourage Me

     As we read the Bible, or any other book in which the characters stand out for some reason, we no doubt remember people for certain characteristics. This should certainly be the case with Barnabas, a Christian from very early on in the history of God’s kingdom, the church.  Barnabas could possibly be remembered for a number of things as he is mentioned 29 times in 28 verses of the New Testament.  

   It was Barnabas, in Acts 9:26-28 who took Saul, who once persecuted the church, to the apostles following his conversion. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 

     It was also Barnabas, in Acts 11:22-23, who was sent by the apostles to see what was being preached by men of Cyprus and Cyrene after the church was scattered following the stoning of Stephen, to make sure those doing the teaching were not false teachers. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the LordIt appears that even the apostles were aware of Barnabas’ fidelity.

     Barnabas realized how much opportunity was in Antioch, and we see in Acts 11:25-26 that Barnabas sought and found Saul and for a year they worked together diligently there with great results.   Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.  Then, when a great famine was foretold by the Spirit through Agabus, guess who it was that was chosen to take part in delivering the relief for the saints in Jerusalem?   That’s right, brother Barnabas! (Acts 11:30)

     Much more could be said about the accounts of the things in the life of Barnabas, but these will suffice, along with the first mention of his name in the Bible.   In Acts 4:36 we see that name “Barnabas” was given by the apostles as the name means “son of consolation”.   And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,.  Synonyms of “consolation” are: comfort; solace; relief; and support.     Another word, more familiar to us that fits here is: “encouragement”.

     Now to the point! How did Barnabas “encourage” so many people? Did he just say nice and flattering things to them? Did he just “build them up” with words? NO! His opening “action” was to give of his possessions to the work of the kingdom, and for the benefit of the church.   His further actions were finding another zealous, fellow-Christian and getting involved in the work of preaching and teaching the Word of God, (Acts 9:27) & (Acts 11:25). Then he remained involved in that work of the church in that location.   Later, he (and Paul) traveled about and “planted” churches in various cities.   Still later, he and Mark went to other places while Pail and Silas re-visited the congregations previously started and many folks heard the preaching and teaching of the gospel and many souls were saved.

     It was not just the words Barnabas spoke that showed he was one to encourage others. It was also the things which he did and the way in which he did them.   His unselfishness and willingness to “give of himself” for the cause of Christ was very encouraging. This also can be true of congregations

as 2Corinthians 8:3-5 tells us of the churches (congregations) of Macedonia.

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

     Oh, the encouragement to be had when fellow Christians not only have zeal, but strive to have that zeal according to knowledge of the Word of God.   Israel, in the days of Paul had zeal, yet without knowledge. They were not saved as a result per Romans 10:1-2. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 

   Encourage me! Learn, Obey, and Follow God’s Word. Let’s all give ourselves wholly to the work God left for us to do.    Reach out with His Word. Encourage folks to be obedient. Let us help souls be saved and let us “build up” the church.        NOW, THAT’S ENCOURAGING!

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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