Men of the Bible Series - Barnabas (Acts 11:23-24)
Acts 11:23-24, 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. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the LORD.
The early church was in a dilemma and believers were being persecuted. Peter and John had been arrested and were threatened not to speak about Jesus. When the disciples gathered to pray for guidance, the Holy Spirit filled them with boldness, and the church came together in unity. The Bible described Barnabas as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:24).
Notice: We see the ministry of Barnabas. We find three things as a result of this.
1. God uses qualified servants.
Barnabas was an encourager to believer’s, especially new converts. He was used by the Lord to be a special gift to His children. Barnabas had a generous heart. His character reflected the giving nature of the heart of God. God’s chief requirement of any Christian servant is that they be filled with the Spirit. In fact, no amount of learning will ever surpass this. One of the church’s greatest needs today is a Barnabas. Barnabas had a great passion for the Lord’s work and His people. He genuinely loved helping people. He was gifted at restoring broken lives. Perhaps his comforting words of consolation kept many in faithful service.
2. God uses faithful servants.
The Lord always seeks to work through His churches. Barnabas was active and faithful in his church before the Lord sent him on this mission. The church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch to help the new church. When this new convert “Saul” showed up in Jerusalem to meet the apostles, it was Barnabas who came alongside him and vouched for his authentic faith Acts 9:27—28. In Acts 13:43, Barnabas encouraged new believers to continue in the grace of God. In Acts 14:21-22, he returned with Paul to three cities visited earlier to build up the disciples they had made and to encourage them. In Acts 15:36, they did the same. A true friend will always be humble for your sake. A real friend wants you to be first. Barnabas was not into himself. He was an encourager of others. His name actually means "son of encouragement," and he would, through the power of Jesus, embody his name for generations to come. It’s easy to see how he gained such a reputation. The Holy Spirit is the One Who “comes alongside” to help us. Barnabas gained the reputation of coming alongside others to encourage or help them.
The disciples were very suspicious when it came to the new convert Saul. Barnabas was willing to take a risk. When nobody wanted to extend the right hand of fellowship to Paul, Barnabas responded in faith and embraced Paul as a new person in Christ. Barnabas went to Saul’s hometown of Tarsus and brought him to the church at Antioch. Barnabas took personal responsibility in seeing that Paul had the opportunity to grow and to be used in ministry. Barnabas journeyed with Paul on his first missionary trip. Not only did Barnabas share Paul’s conversion, but he also spoke of how the Lord had already used him. The impact that Paul had on the early church is overwhelming! However, if Barnabas had not been willing to mentor Paul he may not have made as much of an impact. It is a risk to reach out to people and love them, invest in them, care for them, and mentor them. However, if we fail in these areas, the church’s mission will be highly impacted in a negative way.
3. God blesses those who serve Him.
Observe that under Barnabas the church grew very much. This man Joses (Barnabas) was a man who we will find was greatly used of the Lord (Acts 4:36; 9:27). He was a Jewish believer from Cyrus. A man who has a powerful testimony of being a consoler or uplifter. He was given the name Barnabas because he was blessed with the gift of exhortation. Notice: Every time we have seen Barnabas in the book of Acts he is giving, helping, or encouraging others. He was noted for standing up on one’s behalf (Acts 9:27; 15:37-39). He was a man of means who had the gift of giving. He was a godly, spirit filled man who possessed the gift of faith. This is one of the highest descriptions of Christian character. Barnabas teaches us to use our gifts to meet the needs of others. He was used greatly in the life of Paul and Mark who wrote books in the New Testament. His life consisted of bringing people to Jesus and discipling new converts, encouraging them to cleave unto the Lord. This same Holy Spirit filled the heart of Barnabas, and he reflected the Holy Spirit’s work in his life as he came alongside others. The Lord used Barnabas teach us the importance of manifesting a heart of integrity and generosity. The Holy Spirit equips us to serve the church and its global mission. When we consider the character of a Christian, we must include the role of the Holy Spirit as He motivates and empowers the Christian to teach, serve, encourage, lead, and proclaim the Good News of Jesus. God used Barnabas to take the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth. His character made a lasting difference in the lives of millions because he demonstrated the heart of God.
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, give me a heart of encouragement for other believers. May the Holy Spirit empower me and use me and direct me to Christians who need encouragement and need someone to help them in their walk of faith. In Jesus name, Amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.