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God’s Daily Word Devotionals

The Example of Barnabas

Prior to meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul (who would later
be known as the Apostle Paul) was one of the greatest enemies of Christians:

“Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison” (Acts 8:3).

But Saul’s conversion was dramatic and after a few years he tried to join with the believers in Jerusalem.  However, with his reputation for hatred toward Christians, the disciples were not willing to accept him.

But one man saw beyond the past mistakes; saw beyond the slimy pit from which he had been removed; saw the grace of Jesus which had worked a miracle in Saul’s life – that man was Barnabas!  Barnabas believed in Saul, comforted him, and defended him to the other believers.

Acts 9:27
“But Barnabas 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 preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”

Saul was on fire for Jesus, ready to preach the gospel with the same energy he once used to persecute the church.  But after just a short time in Jerusalem, Saul had to flee for his life back to his home in Tarsus.  It’s not clear what he did for the next several years, but there’s no evidence of ministry work until Barnabas, once again, found Saul and provided the necessary encouragement.

Acts 11:25-26
“Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.”

The Apostle Paul went on to have a greater impact in the forming of the early Church and in defining Church doctrine than any other follower of Jesus.  But if not for Barnabas, Paul may not have ever preached beyond his own back yard.  In the early days of the Church, Barnabas believed the absolute best in people and encouraged them at every opportunity.  His encouragement of Paul resulted in more fruit for God’s Kingdom than anything else he could have possibly done or imagined.

We all know someone who can use a lift – someone in desperate need of a friend to believe in them – someone in need of a Barnabas!  Let’s encourage others today by believing in the power of Christ working through their lives; by looking beyond what we can see, to what we know Jesus can do  with a life completely devoted to Him.  Let’s be the spark which reignites the fire in others and helps them return to the great race – let’s look for opportunities to encourage our Brothers and Sisters according to the example of Barnabas.

Part II of this study is:

Son Of Encouragement

In the message “The Example of Barnabas” we saw how Barnabas played an essential role in Paul’s ministry.  He boldly introduced Paul to the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 9:27), and then searched for Paul when he had fled Jerusalem to his home town of Tarsus (Acts 11:25-26).  After taking Paul to Antioch, Barnabas remained with him for several years while they encouraged the church…and each other.

Being an encourager was a way of life for Barnabas.  His name was originally Joseph, but prior to even meeting Paul, the apostles had begun to call him “Barnabas (which means Son of  Encouragement)”  (Acts 4:36)

Barnabas was able to evaluate other people according to their ability in Christ – an ability determined by His strength and not hindered by past failures.  This allowed Barnabas to see great potential where others saw only weakness, and to encourage when others had given up.

Barnabas went with Paul on his first missionary journey where they jointly proclaimed the name of Jesus wherever they went.  Another young man, named Mark, began this first missionary journey but then turned back.  This apparent lack of perseverance bothered Paul so much that when he began
his second missionary trip he refused to take Mark along.

Acts 15:37-39
“Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement, that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus.”

Barnabas saw the Christ-given potential in young Mark and encouraged him as he had done with Paul many years before.  As a result, Mark matured in his ministry and faithfully continued in his service to Jesus.  He ministered along side the Apostle Peter (2 Peter 5:13), was reunited with Paul (Colossians 4:10, Philemon 24), and later wrote the earliest account of the Gospel – the Gospel of Mark.

The early church faced many difficulties – many opportunities for discouragement – but God used Barnabas to strengthen those who had been called to the front lines of battle.  We can’t all stand up and preach in front of large crowds or travel as missionaries to foreign lands, but we ALL have the ability to encourage those whom God places in our path.

The world is full of people crying out for someone to care and believe in them.  Individual lives can be changed, families can be restored, entire communities and even nations can be turned toward God, if each of us will encourage others to draw closer to our Heavenly Father, to love Him more, and to trust Him with all their heart.  Let’s share the love of Jesus and effectively minister by seeing others, and then taking action, as a Son of Encouragement.

God’s Daily Word is written by:
Steve Troxel
of God’s Daily Word Ministries

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August 14, 2008 - Posted by | In the News

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