Summary: The real need for encouragement.
Barnabas was THE ENCOURAGER … he was always looking out for the underdog … he always attempted to see the “good” in everyone … he tried to focus on the positives!
How many of you know a Barnabas?
I have had a number of Barnabas’ in my life … but do you know what I have realized over the years … you usually never get more than one REAL Barnabas at a time … have you noticed that?
Of course, there are people that really push you, but then there are others who propel you!
In the early part of my life … my mother was my Barnabas … always propelling me … always encouraging me … she always said, “Todd, you can be anything God wants you to be!”
In my teens I began to cry out for a father figure … but as you know my parents where divorced when I was about 2 years old … so I found my Barnabas in my youth pastor – John Sotero … In fact, I remember one time when he took me to work out with him, and the next day he wrote me a note to tell me how much that meant to him … for the next 9 years he was my Barnabas!
And then in Bible College and my first few months of ministry … It was Dr. Opal Reddin … she kept encouraging me and pushing me to get closer to the Lord … to know Him and make Him known!
Wow … and then things took a nose dive … I found myself in a church where board members would swear at me and get in fist fight with each other … It was then that I meant Pat Hilkey … he was a local pastor who believed in me and encouraged me … without this Barnabas I was about to quit the ministry.
And in my last church … we had pastor problems … board problems … financial problems … you name it we had it. I thought that was it. I endured 4 ½ years of pure hypocrisy in leaders around me, but my brother Scott Bishop became my biggest Barnabas … he was always there … he knew what to say and when to say it. I am not even sure today how much he knows that meant to me … he was a REAL Barnabas in my life!
And now today, I have one of the greatest Barnabas’ in Mary, my awesome wife. She is my biggest source of encouragement ever … she supports my dreams and God’s plans for me … WHY? Because I support her dreams and God’s plans for her! When I leave a youth meeting discouraged … she lifts me up! When I feel like a failure (which there are times when I do) … she reminds me of what God thinks about me!
The truth is that we all need a Barnabas in our life … whether we admit it or not!
Some of us may be thinking: “Me and God – that’s all I need.”
God doesn’t even buy that one … Genesis 2:18 … “It is not good for man to be alone.” Adam had God … but even God realized that we NEED someone in our lives to encourage and motivate us!!!
Barnabas was that person to Saul … you see, reality is this … if Barnabas never stood behind Saul you would probably never had a Paul!
When no one stood behind Saul … there was Barnabas!
When no one believed Saul … Barnabas did!
THE BACKBONE OF BARNABAS was that he was an ENCOURAGER!!!
Most of you would probably identify with this: “Life is sometimes pretty discouraging.”
Friend, it is even more discouraging when you are alone in the discouraging times of your life!!!
You see, I would not have survived certain things in my, if God had not sent me a BARNABAS!
And Paul would probably not have become the greatest preacher of the NT without the encouraging words of BARNABAS in the early part of his life with Christ!
Several years ago a teacher assigned to visit children in a large city hospital received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child. She took the boy’s name and room number and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, "We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework so he doesn’t fall behind the others." It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized it was located in the hospital’s burn unit. No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. She felt that she couldn’t just turn and walk out, so she awkwardly stammered, "I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs."