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Scripture Memory: Sin
Proverbs 14:12 
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

11 March 2012
8 am & 10.45am Worship Service:

Rev Colin Wong (It Isn’t Fair, Mat 20:1-16 )
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Dn Lee Hock Chin (Home Relationships of a Born-Again Christian, Col 3:18-25)

18 March 2012
8 am & 10.45am Worship Service:

Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Are You Contented? Lk 12:16-21)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Charles Seet (How to be Effective for Christ, Col 4:2-6)

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BARNABAS – the Son of Encouragement

Once in a while, we meet an ordinary person who made a great impact in our lives. Barnabas is such a person.

If not for Barnabus, who first befriended the friendless Saul in the Jerusalem church, believed in him, recognized and nurtured his gifts by giving him an area of ministry, Saul might not have made the first missionary journey, or become a mighty preacher and theologian. If not for Barnabas who gave Mark a second chance, his life might have been quite different. Barnabas may be relatively unknown compared to the Apostle Paul or the Gospel writer Mark, but his ministry of encouragement to them made vital contributions to the growth of the early church.

Who was Barnabas?

He was a Jew, from the country of Cyprus, a Mediterranean island north of Jerusalem. We saw his generosity when he sold his property to raise funds to relieve the poor and needy brethren (Acts 4:36-7). He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit, full of faith in the true and living God (Acts 11:24). Barnabas was not his original name. Acts 4:36 tells us that his name was Joses (Joseph). The apostles observed in him the gift of encouragement and named him Barnabas, which means the "son of encouragement".

The early church had Barnabas who encouraged Paul. Our church needs people like Barnabas. Who is on the lookout for the new visitor, the friendless, the sick, the bed-ridden, and the persecuted? Who will encourage them? When we face trials, sicknesses and discouragements, we need brethren to encourage and help us, to be a friend to lend a listening ear, give a word of comfort, to support, pray and help.

How did Barnabas encourage others? First,

1. Barnabas Encouraged Others with the Word of God

Barnabas devoted his life to encourage others by teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Acts 11:23-24, Barnabas was sent to the church in Antioch to confirm the faith of many Gentiles who were recently converted. He "exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart, they would cleave unto the Lord." The Greek word for "exhorted" means to comfort, give exhortation, intreat or pray. Barnabas encouraged the new Gentile believers to remain firm in their faith, and to draw near to God. Through his ministry of encouragement and the Word, saints were edified and sinners saved (v.24). He saw the rich potential for advancement of the gospel, and together with Saul, he continued to teach God’s Word in Antioch for one full year (v.26). A result of their ministry was that, for the first time, the disciples in Antioch were so well known for their life testimony that they were given the nickname "Christians" i.e. followers of Christ. The encouragement we give to young believers and to troubled Christians must be based on the Word of God.

Barnabas encouraged others not only with the Word of God, but also by believing in them.

2. Barnabas Encouraged Others by Believing in Them

Barnabas encouraged Saul by believing in him. Saul was on the road to Damascus "breathing out threatenings and slaughter" against Christians, sending more of them into prison (Acts 9:1-2). On that road, Saul met Christ and was dramatically converted from a Persecutor of Christians to a Preacher of Christ (Acts 9:4-6). Having experienced the grace of God, Saul immediately began preaching Christ in the church at Damascus (19-22). The Jews opposed him and plotted to kill him (v.23-24). Saul escaped in a basket lowered by the disciples down the city wall (v.25). After that harrowing experience, Saul sought peace and fellowship in the Jerusalem church. However he was utterly disappointed. The Christians there were suspicious of Saul whose infamous reputation preceded him. Can he be trusted? He may be a spy, infiltrating the church to betray us.They were afraid of him and avoided him. Saul felt alone and misunderstood. At that critical moment, the man of the hour appeared. "Barnabas took him (Saul), and brought him to the apostles," (Acts 9:27). He vouched for the genuine conversion of Saul. He testified that Saul preached Christ in Damascus amidst much opposition and danger to his life, and escaped with the help of the disciples there who let him down in a basket by the city wall. Because Barnabas spoke a good word for Saul, Saul was gradually accepted by the Jerusalem church and given space to preach. However, he was opposed by the Greeks and he left for Tarsus (vv.29-30). But Saul was not forgotten. The next time Barnabas needed help, no prizes for guessing who he called.

Barnabas believed in Saul and invited him to co-labour with him. In Acts 11:22, the Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to Antioch to help catechise the new Gentile converts. That trip convinced Barnabas that the Gentile field was white unto harvest (v.23-24). He needed help. He was deeply impressed by Saul’s boldness, zeal and gift of preaching. So he went to Tarsus to look for Saul (v.25). Barnabas’s visit marked a turning point in Paul’s ministry. It began a great partnership. They preached Christ for one whole year in Antioch. They were set apart by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2) for the first missionary journey. Barnabas became Paul’s companion, traveling together, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ, and planting new churches in Asia Minor.

Barnabas encouraged others by identifying their potential gifts and by believing in them. Third,

3. Barnabas Encouraged Others by Giving Them a Second Chance

John Mark was a case in point. Following the success of the first missionary journey, Barnabas and Paul excitedly made plans for the second journey (Acts 15:36). However, they soon ran into a serious dispute. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark (his cousin), but Paul disagreed because Mark forsook them during the first journey (Acts 15:37-8). Their disagreement was so sharp that they parted ways – Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas to Syria (Acts 15:39-40). We do not know why Mark dropped out of the first journey. Perhaps mission work was too stressful for a young inexperienced idealistic man. Because Mark had let him down before, Paul was not going to take a chance on him again. This is where we see the magnanimous heart of Barnabas and his gift of encouragement. He forgave Mark his earlier mistake, and gave him a second chance by inviting him to serve in his mission. Perhaps Barnabas saw the latent gifts of a missionary in Mark. Given a bit more encouragement, guidance, practice, and perseverance, perhaps Mark’s diamond will soon be sparkling. Despite initial rejection, 2 Timothy 4:11 records Apostle Paul’s remarkable commendation of Mark: "Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry."According to church tradition, John Mark later wrote the Gospel of Mark. If not for Barnabas, Mark could have become another casualty in the gospel ministry. (A study showed that 80% of seminary graduates in America gave up their ministry within the first five years.) Barnabas saw the potential in Mark, forgave his mistake, patiently guided and discipled him in the mission field.

We all need people to forgive us of our many faults and past failures. Young people need their fathers, mothers, uncles and aunties to believe in them, no matter how many mistakes they have made in the past, and not give up on them, but give them a second chance, and continue to support and guide them.

Conclusion

Barnabas was able to encourage others because God first touched Barnabas’ heart with love to welcome the friendless Saul. Because Christ forgave all his sins, Barnabas was able to forbear and forgive others’ mistakes, over and over again, giving others another chance. What is it that God has done for Barnabas that He did not do for you? God can use you to encourage others with God’s Word, by believing in them, forgiving their mistakes, and giving them a second chance. You may not be as gifted as Barnabas. But God uses ordinary people to encourage brethren in the mission field, in church and at home.

I know a retiree brother who visits a missionary family once in two years, not to preach, but just to do simple things for them. He relieves the missionary’s wife weary from years of ministry without a break. He cooks, does house chores, teaches the home-schooled kids drawing, and reads God’s Word to them. He takes the family out for a meal occasionally. That is a ministry of encouragement in the mission field that many of you can do.

Some years ago, a visitor attended our church not knowing anyone. A sister noticed her, approached and welcomed her, took down her contact number and subsequently visited her with a bag of fruits. That visitor needed encouragement, and God sent this sister to visit and care for her. In every church, there are lonely people. Can you be a friend to the friendless? Many of you can encourage others in creative ways in church.

What about at home? Are we encouraging our children and spouses to grow in the Lord by sharing with them the Word of God? Do we daily forgive their fewer sins against us, because Christ has forgiven our many sins against God? Do we give them a second chance and a third chance? Many of us can do more to encourage our family members at home.

May the Lord help us to be sons and daughters of encouragement at home, in church, and in the mission field by sharing the Word of God, by believing in others, and by giving others a second chance.

Dn Lee Hock Chin

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Life B-P Church Camp 2012
11-14 Jun 12 (Mon-Thu)

To register, please log in to http://www.lifebpc.com/churchcamp2012.htm for online registration.

Venue: Nirwana Resort Hotel, Bintan, Indonesia

Theme: ‘One in Christ, Unity in Diversity’.’

Speaker: Pastor Tan Soon Yong from Fishermen of Christ.

Registration forms are also available at the front entrance for those who have no internet access.

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1) Myanmar Van Fund. We thank all for contributing towards this fund. As the funds are adequate, no further contribution is needed.

2) "Faith’s Checkbook": Daily Devotional by C H Spurgeon, Vol 2 (Apr-Jun 2012). Now available at the front counter. The same devotions are available online at http://www.lifebpc.com/devotions.

 

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11