Summary: Continue hearing what the Lord has to teach us about HOPE.
Continue in hearing what the Lord has to teach us about hope.
As a means of review and introduction…I want to begin by distinguishing three types of hope. Those based on…
· Promises (of God) – “He will…” (Anchor)
Began on Easter Sunday… the resurrection of Jesus Christ is our ultimate and ‘living hope.’
The writer of Hebrews calls it “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” It’s an anchor for our souls in a world of uncertainty and troubles.
John 16:33… Jesus says…
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Such hope is something we don’t have to conjure up… it comes from God… based on His promises.
· Presumption – “He must…”
There are times when we may drop anchor in hopes that simply leave us stuck… hopes that become unspoken demands in our hearts. We’ve decided what God should do and now he ‘must’ do. Here’s where we may have to grieve some past losses and let downs in order to really enter the hope God has for us.
· Possibilities – “He can…”
This is the hope of possibility…. Not of presuming ‘God must’ but of living in the possibility that ‘God can.’ God seeks people who keep their hearts open … open to the possibility of what he can do in them… and in others. It’s this hope in others I want to focus on now.
Story – Young man who gave his heart to Christ…struggled to keep that commitment.. Each summer recommitted… finally broke through… was a leader… then became lost again before his heart finally settled it’s path. I know because I was that young man. And I know the significance seeing possibilities for myself… and of those whose hearts could kept seeing possibilities in me.
> God’s Word gives us a story of what’s involved with keeping an open heart. It’s a story within the life of the first disciples of Jesus…. A story we can trace through the Book of Acts.
The lesson of an open heart…
“… there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means "Son of Encouragement"). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles for those in need.” [NLT]
“When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the followers. But they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe he was a true follower. Then Barnabas helped him by taking him to the apostles. He explained how Saul had seen the Lord and how the Lord had spoken to him. Barnabas also said that when Saul was in Damascus, he had spoken bravely in the name of Jesus.” [CEV]
Then Barnabas takes Saul with him on a missions trip.
“When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.” (cf. 12:12)
This John who is also called Mark is first introduced to us in 12:12, where we are told that during the persecution in Jerusalem, many disciples were gathering regularly for prayer at the home of a woman named Mary. John Mark was her son and elsewhere it is noted that he is a cousin of Barnabas…. Likely a younger cousin. Mark was sometimes called by his Jewish name, John, and sometimes by his Roman name, Mark.
“… in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. (John Mark went with them as their assistant.)” [NLT]
“After some time Paul said to Barnabas, "Let’s return to each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are getting along." Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not shared in their work. Their disagreement over this was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and the believers sent them off, entrusting them to the Lord’s grace.” [NLT]
But the story isn’t over…
2 Tim. 1:15, 4:11
“You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me…. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (cf. Colossians 4:10)
Many have noted the conflict that arose between Paul and Barnabas as a reminder that the first followers of Jesus were as real as any of us. But it’s the ending that strikes me most. The very person whose failure Paul feels so strongly about and refuses to allow with him… he now asks for. He had marked him as a ‘deserter’ and now he specifically asks for him when others desert him because he knows him as one who will be helpful.