"... the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh. 8:10)
A. There are some people who are gifted at Encouraging others.
1. Barnabas was such a man --- he was named Barnabas, which means "Son of Consolation" by the Apostles.
2. Barnabas was a Virtuous man, Generous, Kind, and full of Faith and Good Works.
B. His goodness proceeded from his being Full of The Holy Spirit --- Controlled By The Holy Spirit.
I. Barnabas Was The "Real Thing"!
A. We have Many Pretenders but only a Few Performers.
1. Barnabas was a Performer --- while Ananias and Sapphira were Pretenders.
2. Many of us Think About doing something but we Never Do It.
3. Encouragers Think About doing it and then Do It.
4. They Donít Pretend to be Encouragers --- they Are Encouragers.
B. Encouragers Are Active and Observant People.
1. You often wonder How They Knew the needs of another person.
2. They are always Listening and Observing --- they are Sensitive to the needs and hurts of others.
3. They Pick Up On Things that most of us would Overlook.
II. Barnabas Saw Potential Where Others Saw A Great Problem.
A. The church in Jerusalem saw Paul as a Problem --- Barnabas recognized his Great Potential.
1. While some will say, "Iím Not So Sure."
2. Encouragers will say, "Letís Give It A Try."
B. Paul saw a Problem with John Mark --- Barnabas saw his Potential.
1. Paul saw a Quitter --- but Barnabas saw a young man who needed a Second Chance.
2. When Paul was first converted --- Who was it that put his arm around him and Encouraged Others To Accept Paul --- Barnabas.
3. Barnabas Is Still the encourager --- Paul --- John Mark.
Acts 15:36-40, "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God."41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches."
4. Paul had Not Yet become the Great Encourager that he Later became.
2 Tim. 4:11, "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry."
C. No doubt, Paul Remembered his first experience with Barnabas when he wrote:
2 Cor. 1:3-4, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
1. Will you allow God to use you as the Instrument, By Which He Will Encourage and Comfort others --- as God Had Used Barnabas To Encourage Paul.
2. Remember When You were a Problem --- but someone saw the Potential in you .....
We need to be on the lookout for the Potential In Others.
D. Teddy Stoddard
As Mrs. Thompson stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. Yet, Teddy could be pleasant.
It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.
Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."
His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."
His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."
Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class."
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, that is except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."
After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.
Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets."
A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.
The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.
They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."
E. We need to Make Sure that people have to Climb Over Our Encouragement in order to Mess Up.
III. Barnabas Cared More About People Than He Did About Programs.
A. Programs are only there for the Purpose of Building Up and Strengthening people.
1. In the early days of the church, the Gospel was preached Only to the Jews.
a. However, in Antioch there were a Large Number of Greeks who Believed in Jesus.
Acts 11:21, "And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."
b. The church at Jerusalem Sent Barnabas To Investigate.
c. When Barnabas got to Antioch and saw what the Grace of God was Accomplishing ---
Acts 11:23, "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 Lord."
d. They had Forgotten To Explain The Program To Barnabas, that Only The Jews were to receive the Gospel.
B. Barnabas left immediately and went to Tarsus to Get Paul To Help him teach the new converts.
1. Barnabas Wasnít into the "Competition Thing."
2. He wasnít even hesitant at all to bring Paul into the revival at Antioch and Share the Responsibility and Excitement with him.
C. "Barnabas And Saul"
1. In the First Half of the book of Acts the two men are usually referred to as "Barnabas And Saul (or Paul)."
2. Barnabas was, no doubt, a Mentor To Paul in his early Christian life.
D. "Paul And Barnabas"
1. After Paul grew Spiritually and his Stature and Influence grew --- they began to be referred to as "Paul And Barnabas."
2. This made No Difference To Barnabas.
3. Barnabas was much more interested in People than he was in Programs and Protocol.
E. Structure Means Nothing To Encouragers.
1. All they want to do is Find Somebody that has a need and Reach Out To Help Them.
2. Sometimes, we have More people willing to Take Care of The Structure than we have that are interested in Taking Care of People.
IV. The Last Person We Want Around When We Hurt Is An Armchair Theologian Who Will Outline The Causes And Cures of Our Pain.
A. We Need someone who will simply be a Friend --- who will Not Condemn Us for the pain we feel.
1. Discouragement is the act of Discharging The Courage Right Out of A Person.
2. One of the Greatest Needs in our culture today is the need for Godly Encouragement --- the Infusing of Courage into a person.
Letís Look At Job And His Three Friends:
B. God told Satan he could Remove All Jobís Possessions to prove that Jobís Fear of The Lord Was Not Based On His Blessings.
1. How Did Job Respond to this Opportunity to Demonstrate his Integrity to Satan and the world.
Job 1:21-22, "And said, Naked came I out of my motherís womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. 22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
2. Even Jobís Wife discouraged him by encouraging him to curse God and die --- to get it over with.
Job 2:9-10, "Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips."
C. Three of Jobís Friends came to Mourn with him and to Comfort him in his afflictions --- I believe that they were True Friends who came for the Right Purpose --- they Started Right.
1. When they saw him, he was in such bad condition that they did Not Even Recognize Him.
2. They saw that his grief was very great and they Wept for him and Tore their clothes and Sprinkled Dust upon their heads.
3. They sat down with him upon the ground Seven Days And Seven Nights, Without Speaking A Word unto him.
D. They would have been Wiser if they had continued Not To Speak at all.
Listen To Job.
Job 16:1-2, "Then Job answered and said, 2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all."
Letís read it from the New Living Translation:
Job 16:1-5, "Then Job spoke again: 2 "I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! 3 Wonít you ever stop your flow of foolish words? What have I said that makes you speak so endlessly? 4 I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off my criticisms against you and shake my head at you. 5 But thatís not what I would do. I would speak in a way that helps you. I would try to take away your grief."
E. We have all encountered Well-Meaning Friends who take it upon themselves to Straighten Us Out In Our Hour of Misery.
1. Eliphaz --- The Oldest of the three.
a. His favorite phrase was, "I Have Seen" or observed.
He had Great Confidence In His Own Opinion --- even to the extent of being willing to Create False Guilt in others.
b. He informs Job that he is Unrighteous and has done something to Deserve the misfortune he is experiencing.
Job 4:7, "Stop and think! Does the innocent person perish? When has the upright person been destroyed?"
In Other Words, "Look Job, no one who is upright ever goes through this kind of trouble. God doesnít punish the righteous. If youíre reaping suffering you must have sown sin. So, letís get to the bottom line: What have you done that has caused God to punish you like this."
c. We know that Job was not suffering because he was bad --- God Himself tells us that Job Is Suffering Because He Is Good --- to demonstrate his Integrity and Uprightness.
2. Bildad --- Talks like a Self-Righteous, Legalistic, Pharisee.
a. After telling Job that he is in this mess because of his sin --- he inserts the proverbial knife and gives it a twist by also Blaming His Children.
Job 8:4, "... thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;"
b. Donít you wish you had an encouraging friend like Bildad?
3. Zophar --- The Youngest of the three.
a. Zophar is like the Young Preacher fresh out of the Seminary --- he Knows All The Answers.
b. Notice his Arrogance.
Job 11:6, "... Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.
c. Job Has Lost Everything but his foul-smelling breath --- yet Zophar says he Deserves To Lose Much More.
d. Isnít Zophar a great blessing?
F. Jobís Three Friends Failed To Hear What He Was Saying.
1. Have you ever been talking with someone and you Realized that they were Not Listening to you at all.
2. They were Preparing What They Were Going To Say Next.
3. Their Goal is Not To Hear You but to make Sure That You Hear Them.
4. They have Preconceived Ideas about your situation.
G. They refused to recognize Suffering as part of Godís Plan.
1. There is No Evidence that either of Jobís friends thought that Godís Plan could ever include Suffering for the Righteous.
2. They had no idea that God had a Different and Deeper Reason for Jobís suffering --- to take him to a Higher Level of Spiritual Maturity and Fellowship with the Lord.
V. Encouragement Is Merely Giving Away That Which We Have Received.
A. 2 Cor. 1:3-4, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
Every Time We Feel Encouraged by something --- we ought to make a mental note to Do That Same Thing For Someone Else.
B. Many people today suffer from "Attention Deprivation".
We just Donít Know whether Anyone Really Cares about us or Not.
David --- Psa. 142:4, "I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul."
C. It is the Members of the Body of Christ who are Responsible for Encouraging and Building Up Every Other Member.
1. We are to Instruct --- Teach --- Admonish --- Stimulate --- Build Up --- Pray For --- Carry The Burdens of --- Confess Our Sins To --- Submit To --- Help --- Encourage One Another.
2. Eccl. 4:9-11, "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?"
D. The N.T. talks about the "One-Another Ministries" we are to have to each other.
1 Thess. 4:18, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." --- 5:11, "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."
Heb. 3:13, "But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." --- 10:25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
Nobody Cares How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care!
Do Not Open Your Mouth Until You Have First Opened Your Heart!
Prov. 12:25, "Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad."
There Is No Second Chance After Death!
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