Summary: Every believer who is part of God’s church should be a source of encouragement to others.
An Encouraging Word
Acts 11:19-30 Intro: Barnabas is a unique character in the book of Acts. We first meet him in Acts 4:36-37: “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” This shows us that he must have been a generous person. The next time we hear about Barnabas is in Acts 9:27 when he befriended Saul, who had just become a believer. Everybody else was rejecting Saul, but Barnabas took him to the apostles and helped him along in the ministry. In our text we see that the apostles trusted him enough to represent them to new Gentile Christians in Antioch. He encouraged them and helped lead many more to Jesus. Then he went to find Paul so he could come and help all these new believers in Antioch. Later, Barnabas and Paul become the first missionaries in Acts as they begin to travel all around the Middle East, sharing Jesus with all who will listen.
-The thing I like most about Barnabas is that he lived up to his name: Son of Encouragement. He made it his mission to encourage people everywhere he went. That is exactly the early church needed in order to grow and become strong, and that is exactly what we need in God’s Church these days.
Prop: Every believer who is part of God’s church should be a source of encouragement to others.
Interrogative: Why is encouragement so important to God?
TS: Let’s look at 3 reasons for words of encouragement, and then look at one tangible way to express encouragement.
I. Encouraging Words Help People Turn to Jesus (19-21, 24)
-To encourage someone means to inspire someone with courage, spirit, or hope, to hearten, or cheer. It suggests the raising of someone’s confidence when they were lacking courage or hope. The Greek word for encouragement is parakaleo, which literally means to call to one’s side. It also means to urge strongly or appeal to. It might be easy enough to see how these definitions should fit in the church among believers, but what about with those we are trying to reach? How can we encourage people who do not yet know Jesus as their Forgiver and Leader?
-As I was studying out the meaning of the word “encouragement,” I realized that it was a very good description of what we would like to see happen when we share the good news about Jesus. When we tell people that there is hope, what are we doing? When we tell people they can be free from the darkness and bondage in their lives, what are we doing? Are we trying to inspire someone with courage, spirit, or hope? Yes! We know that Jesus can help them, but somehow they’ve got to see and know that it really works. That is why we encourage them. We call them to stand beside us and watch what God is doing and has done in our own lives. In fact, I believe that we need to invite people into our own lives before we try to get them to invite Jesus into their lives. If they do not see Jesus at work in us, they will not be encouraged to seek Him any further.
-Our text tells us, 19“Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”
-Those verses do not use the word “encourage,” but I believe there was a lot of encouragement going on as they told people that the Messiah Jesus could change their lives and make them right with God. The good news about Jesus is filled with encouraging words of love, deliverance, healing, and forgiveness. So let’s share the encouraging good news with those in our lives who have not experienced God’s love in a personal way.
-TS: After a person hears the encouraging good news and says YES to Jesus, they need even more encouragement, which leads us to the 2nd point.
II. Encouraging Words Help People Stay True to Jesus (22-24)
22“News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”