Saturday, 6 January 2018

Surrendered Warriors - 1

These messages are based on the new book I’ve been working on: “Surrendered Warriors: How To Know God’s Will for Your Life in a World of Grey.” I would ask that the material, therefore, is only used or reproduced with permission.

Psalm 23:1-6: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. [2] He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, [3] he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. [4] Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. [5] You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. [6] Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

This is the most famous Psalm. In fact it is possible one the most famous passages of Scripture. As a piece of literature it is recognised both within and outside of the Church as being a supreme example of poetic form, admired for its structure. For the Surrendered Warrior it contains promise upon promise of the assurance of the Lord's guidance and protection. Journeying together through this series this Psalm will be the guide for us.

The Big Five!
One of the questions I get asked as a church leader is how to know God's will for someone's life? It seems that God is silent on some of the most important issues faced today; Marriage: who should a person marry, or should they marry at all, and if it doesn't work out is divorce okay? 
Work: Should you take a particular job or work in a certain environment? 
Money: Should I give it away or keep it? 
Church: Surely church is irrelevant, do I have to that involved? 
Suffering: If God is really loving, why does He allow bad stuff to happen to me? 

These are what I would call the "Big Five" issues Christians face today: relationships, work, money, church, and suffering.

To answer to the "Big Five" questions there has to be an understanding of how God's will works in principle. I shall outline principles based on Psalm 23 that will act as a fundamental framework for discovering God's will.

What or who is a Surrendered Warrior? Well, it's you and it's me. People who want to navigate the pathway through life when it appears to be filled with dead ends, detours, and, at times, is not clearly sign posted. There is a goal in mind; to get to the centre, the perfect place to experience God's favour and His will. The epicentre of His love. The aim is to also avoid delay, to not get bogged down, not to be frustrated, to keep going. 

A Surrendered Warrior understands there will not always be a direct route to the prize though. They are aware that there is a texture to life, a rhythm to things, and times when they even seem to be 'off course' to help others on their journey; although they realise that at these times they are often to most 'on course' they have ever been! 

Surrendered Warrior's are not motivated by a fear of a God who is waiting to trip them up. They are not in fear of judgement if they get it wrong, sin or foul up. They know that God loves them and wants the best for them. Their desire is driven by the G factor: gratitude. They are grateful for their salvation, for they know they have not earned it, deserved it or have merited it in any way. They know it is a gift of God. They know God's grace and rely on Him Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith---and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

The Cycle of a Surrendered Life
Gratitude is vested in the love a Surrendered Warrior has in their heart for God. Their desire is to live life to the full because of His love and their love for Him. This leads to a simple life plan: gratitude is the attitude that leads to new altitude in God that takes them to servitude. That sounds a bit pithy, but it's actually a cyclical process that takes them forward and upward in God. 

Beginning with gratitude, a thankfulness that overflows every part of the being, for what God has done. The realisation that in sending Jesus to die for their sins means that God has already done enough, He has done it all. In fact, they know that if the unthinkable happened, that God did nothing else for them in their life time, He would have already done enough.

Gratitude leads the Surrendered Warrior to a different life attitude than those around them. They know that life would be completely different for them without Jesus and not in a good way. Their life becomes one of optimism in a pessimistic world. This is not some kind of supercilious spirituality that denies the hardships in life. It is living with the constant reminder that in the midst of hardships God is faithful and that Jesus has made a way where there seems to be no way:
1 Corinthians 1:9: God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
John 16:33: "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."

They are grounded and their spirituality is pragmatic.

This way of thinking about life takes the believer in a cyclical pattern, but also in an upward route of Christian growth and development. I simply call it altitude. It's promised to the Surrendered Warrior who waits upon God, who seeks His will, rests in Him and desires to grow higher with Him:
Isaiah 40:29-31: He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. [30] Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; [31] but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

This is not a superior attitude towards those believers around them. This is a recognition, according to Isaiah 40:29-31, that their ability to "fly" is something that happens in the midst of tiredness and weakness; it is a reliance on Father God, to wait on Him. 

This cyclonic way of living has its ultimate fulfilment in servitude;  doing the will of God in each and every day of the Surrendered Warrior's life as best they can. They realise that life is not about them, their success, their priorities, but about Jesus and His love being displayed to others. It is not solely about hitting a goal, but about how many are taken with them, how many they help on their own journey to the centre of the maze of life, how many they help find their purpose in this earthy existence. They know that when they are engaged with others, helping others, they are doing this for Jesus, to Jesus! 
Matthew 25:35-43, esp 35 & 40: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in... 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Back to Gratitude
As service for the King increases it takes the Surrendered Warrior back to the beginning, to gratitude, albeit on a different level or plane. As gratitude oozes out their attitude and way of life is enhanced. They grow stronger and higher, maturing in their faith, gaining a new altitude in God. As they do, they serve others more, not less, knowing they are serving Jesus in this way. So the process repeats, and repeats and repeats. 

Of course there are setbacks. There are detours. There are sins that ensnare and prevent the Surrendered Warrior from developing further. Many of these surround the Big Five areas. Sometimes life seems more like a game of Snakes and Ladders where they are sent back down one or two levels as they hit the head of a snake, rather than elevated by hitting the foot of a ladder. Mistakes will curtail them in their journey. For the Surrendered Warrior though, this does not mean game over. God is gracious. He recovers them, His redemption is constant, His love unrestrained. He is more interested in developing your character, your holiness, your Christlikeness through these ups and downs than He is your material comfort.

Part One: It's Not About You

The Lord is ... 

It's All About...
One of the great calamity's of the Church is that modern Christians have fallen into the ego trap believing everything is about them. Their blessing, their lifestyle, their relationships, their money, their children; God can be reduced to a mystical provider who simply answers prayers when life doesn't work out the way it is supposed to. 

I've been a Christian long enough now to have sung songs that have fallen into disuse over the years. Some sadly, some thankfully! There was a song that swept the British Church a while ago that had the phrase: "It's all about you, Jesus, and all this is for you, for your glory and your fame; It's not about me, as if you should do things my way, you alone are God and I surrender to your ways." (Paul Oakley, (It's all About You) Jesus Lover of My Soul, from the album, Because of You, (Integrity Music, 1996). It's a beautiful song, an earnest prayer from a songwriter to redress the balance in our lives, to put Jesus in the centre of everything. 

The problem is not the song itself. The problem is that when it was sung Christians rarely put Jesus in the centre, little surrender occurred and people went about their lives in exactly the same way on Monday morning having declared their love for Jesus on Sunday. Of course this song and others did affect and change lives, but the sea change called for in the lyrics never seemed to happen. 

The issue is that Christians are now consumers of grace rather than channels of peace. Harsh? Maybe. Admitting the issue is the first step to discovering God's will for your life. 

David expressed this in Psalm 23. To really get a handle on God's will for your life the foundational principle needs to be grasped: it's not about you, it's about Him. 

David, the psalmist and poetic songwriter, begins with two words: “The Lord.” The word for Lord in this verse is Yahweh. For the Jews this name was so holy that they would not even pronounce it when they came across it in their reading of the Scripture, but would rather verbally substitute it with Adonai, with the root meaning of "Lord," or "Master." 

David begins with the holiness of God. He uses the most holy of names that he knew of to describe who is the foundation for his life. Everyone who read, or indeed sang this Psalm, although it's original melody has been lost, would have grasped that David is declaring, "The Master!" 

This is no trite matter. Not something to be glossed over. When seeking the will of God for their life, the Surrendered Warrior has to put God first. It is not enough to pray for the will of God to be done as long as God's plan is their plan all along. That is simply like flipping a coin and praying it's heads, and then to keep flipping it until it is!

God knows everything, right? He is aware of every decision you make, every calamity that is about to happen to you or the world, and of every possible outcome. Theologians call this omniscience, God's all encompassing knowledge. If He did not possess this quality then He would not be God; He'd be constantly surprised by the next thing you do, always trying to second guess what would happen next. He is God though. This means He knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning. In fact, in the Bible, which is the collection of books about God's self disclosure, He calls Himself Alpha and Omega. These two Greek words are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The beginning and the end:
Revelation 22:13: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 

It is a picture for you to show that He lives beyond time. He is not bound by time; He sees time differently to you. God is in the moment with you but already exists in the future before you arrive. 

Providence: God's Protective Care 
This idea leads to the idea of God's providence. What is providence? 

Here's a theological interpretation: Providence is the means by which God directs all things — both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil — toward a worthy purpose, which means His will must finally prevail. Providence is the way that God is directing the universe. He is moving it into tomorrow. He is moving it into the future by His providence. Providence means "to provide." God will provide. 

Simply put, it is God's protective care. Sending Jesus to die for the sins of the world was an act of God's providence, His provision of a sacrifice to put right what had gone wrong through the introduction of sin in the world. He provides for you. 

God's ultimate will shall be accomplished on earth. Remember, He knows the beginning from the end. This means His plan for creation will ultimately be accomplished, that He has set things on a course to that end, and that He will have His desired final outcome. Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven:
Matthew 6:10: ...your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven...

It is a prayer for the providence and the provision of God to come into the world, through the lives of his followers: God's will is to be done, through you.

Wrapping This Up:
This all leads us to the question for free will: can I decide to do what I want to do? I will pick this up next time I speak.

In the meantime live the life of a Surrendered Warrior. Not seeking your will, but the Lord’s will to be don in your life.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Christmas Season 2017: Hero for All Times

Christmas Season 2017: Hero for All Times

John 1:1-15: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We have been looking at heroes from the Bible over this year. Today we look a little more at the greatest Heroes of all: Jesus. In so many ways “hero” is a word that fails to capture the meaning of who He is.

(Some of) Jesus’ Qualities: 

He is Eternal. In the beginning was the Word He was there before time with God. That means He is not subject to time, it’s limitations, nor its frustrations.

As a man He sits at God's right hand. As a man He remains in your time. As a man, the only man to do so, He also sees heaven's perspective. He is able to move between heaven and earth freely (Exquisite Jesus)

He is God. and the Word was God. If you want to know what God is like to to Jesus. He is Him. This amazing fact is something we struggle to get our heads around. Its what theologians call the hypostatic union - Jesus, fully man, fully God.

The wonder of Christ is that God placed His life into a virgin’s womb.

Luke 1:35: The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 

At this conception we see the Trinity at work.
Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit will come you: this is the language of empowerment. In both the Old and New Testaments, when the Holy Spirit came “upon” a person, that person spoke anointed words or did mighty works.  Examples include Gideon, Saul, and David (see also Luke 1:35 & Acts 1:8).
God, the Father. The Power of the Most High will overshadow you: this is a reference to what the Jewish people knew as the Shekinah glory of God. Whilst the word itself does not appear in the Hebrew scriptures, but the evidence is there.
This word, 'overshadow' in the Old Testament sometimes referred to the Shekinah cloud that came down and rested on the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34–35 1 Kings 8:10–11, Ezekiel 10:3–4)

This word 'overshadow' is also used elsewhere in the NT to denote God’s glory. Most notably:  
Jesus' transfiguration in Matthew 17:5 

When the power of the Most High overshadowed Mary, she was unbelievably privileged. Nothing like this ever happened to a human being before. God's Shekinah glory came upon Mary—like His glory came down on the Tabernacle and the Temple in the Old Testament—the glory came upon her to give her a Son. 

This is incredible. How could a sinful human being survive this? 

In the Old Testament we see that God's presence was overpowering, so awesome as to be terrifying and profoundly threatening. When the Law was given on Mount Sinai, there was thunder and lightning and a thick cloud covered the mountain and a sound like a very loud trumpet blast. All the people in the camp trembled (Exodus 19:16f) God told Moses to warn the people not to come near the mountain lest they be destroyed (verse 21) Later, when Moses wanted to see God's glory— God told him that no one could see His face and live. God had to put Moses in a cleft of a rock and cover him with His hand until He passed by—Moses could only see God's back.

It's the same way in the New Testament. Luke tells us that on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the cloud appeared, it enveloped James, Peter and John. It tells us that, "they were afraid as they entered the cloud.” (Luke 9:34).

It was a fearful experience for them. I suspect that they survived only because Jesus was with them. 

But there's a second meaning of 'overshadow' that may shed light on this. 

The term 'overshadow is also used to refer to God's presence in protecting His people. 

The idea being that God comes so close to protect that one is in or under His shadow. 
Psalm 91:1-2: Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Jesus, the Son: the holy one to be born. Jesus was not passive in this. He had to leave His throne of Glory, His status in Heaven to become one of us. He vested Himself of all He was to become a baby born of a virgin. He left glory to take on the nature of a servant, to carry the image of God purely in the earth, to become the man that would claim back humanity for God (Colossians 1:15; Philippians 2:6-8; 1 Corinthians 15:45-58).
He is Present and Available. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Here’s another mystery: He’s present with us. He made His dwelling this earth that He’d created.

He is the present of Christmas and the presence of Christmas. 

This changes everything. 
Larry King the CNN  talk show host, was once asked who he would like to interview if he could choose from anyone from all of history.  He said, "Jesus Christ."  When asked what he would ask King replied, "I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born.  The answer to that question would define history for me.” (Exquisite Jesus).  

We’ve got great news for Larry and all of us: He was virgin born and He does define history. 

In fact because Jesus is present He defines history, the present and the future. 
Hebrews 6:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

He is the constant, ever present Saviour. When everything else is changing and decaying in our world, He is the sustaining power (Colossians 1:16).

Jesus promised the disciples that He would be with them, even until the end of the age. The word age, sometimes wrongly translated "world," is aion in the Greek text. It signifies a period of indefinite length or time in relation to what takes place in that period. It is an all encompassing phrase to describe the time in which the present earth resides, a time that will eventually end as God has planned. It is also a binding statement. Jesus is promising that, although He is about to step outside of time, He is ever present within it. He is the only person to do this (Exquisite Jesus).

Jesus is the only one of the Godhead who has human form, and will continue to have human form forever. He is the only member of the Trinity to have scars, from nails, a crown of thorns, and a spear. When you reach heaven all your scars will be gone for Jesus is the only one who will carry marks of death that God has chosen never to erase. As a man Jesus intercedes for you (Exquisite Jesus).

He is Emmanuel - God with Us (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). He has promised to be with us always as His witnesses (Matthew 28:20)

He is Incarnate. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Here is the remarkable truth: He is incarnate. This means He came in human form. Unimpressive to look at. Just like one of us. 

There is something about Jesus that needs to be touched, seen, and experienced. The remoteness of God was removed as in the manger laid the glory of God…full of grace and truth. 
In the middle of our mess He appears. To be seen. To be experienced. Just like God intended He would be seen and experienced.
Psalm 34:8: Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

There is something for the world to see and taste. There is something for the individual to see and taste too.

So what about us? It;S lovely to reflect on some of the qualities of Jesus. 

Here’s the thing: you’re His heroes dispatched into the world be shine His glory. 

He is Eternal and So Are You. You are part of the eternal Church, the Body of Jesus, and as such you represent God’s eternal plan. You have eternal life (John 3:16). You have an eternal perspective that the unsaved cannot have until they meet the eternal God.

He is God and You are His Ambassadors. The very God we profess and worship lives within us:
1 John 4:4: You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
We have been sent out into the world in the same way Jesus was sent by the Father.

Matthew 10:16: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves….

But fret not. In the same way the Holy Spirit, the Shekinah glory, covered and protected Mary, you too have the promise of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; Acts 1:8).

He is Present and Available, so Influence Too: Jesus described His Church as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). This means that we are to influence, to change the flavour of what is going on around us. To be light, to show the way to the truth. Salt is hidden. Once dissolved into food or liquid its influence is tasted but not seen. Light is visible. There are times to declare the goodness of God so that people know. Be present and available.

He is Incarnate, so Are You. There is more to being present than just there. We are the Church incarnate. The gospel message is always incarnate. Always touchable, tangible, to be experienced. We are His hands and feet. We are His Body. We are released into the World to make a difference. We are not called to lives of convenience, but conviction (Matthew 5:16).

Wrapping this up:
Be a hero! Be like Jesus to those around you. 
There’s a saying that not all heroes wear capes. Thats’ true. But Heroes sent out by Jesus wear Him:
Galatians 3: 26-27: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Wear Christ this Christmas season. Be empowered and emboldened by His Spirit. Be Church, church.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Heroes of Faith: Barnabas

A lot of people that you will meet, maybe even you. In those times we need people to walk alongside us. 

It’s so easy to be negative. I can recall my music teacher at school discouraging me against playing guitar because she said I had no talent for it. So I didn't learn. 

All too often we are surrounded by voices that say, “It cannot be done…” but my friends we have a God who proclaims not only can it be done, but it can be done beyond what we ask or possibly imagine. 

Encouragers are people who see Gods potential in you and remind you of it.

Encouragers encourage in three ways: word, act and being examples.

Today we meet a man who epitomises encouragement. His nick name means, encouragement. The man was Barnabas. 

Acts 4:36-37: Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Joseph was his given name. However, the apostles gave him the name, Barnabas. He became known because of his dominant trait - son of encouragement. One who walks alongside.

I want you to see two character traits in Joseph. These are the traits that won him the nickname of Barnabas.

1. He was Sacrificially Generous

In the text in Acts 4 we are told that Barnabas sold a parcel of land and donated the proceeds to meet the needs of the poor. He did this because of his faith in Jesus Christ.

In fact so impactful was his example that in the very next verses in Acts 5 we see Ananias and Saphira trying to emulate him, but not wholeheartedly. They try and withhold some of the blessing in the their lives that was intended for others. They lost everything in the end (Acts 5: 1-11).

One of the hallmarks of an encourager is that they will model it, and modelling it means not withholding the blessing they have been given for others by keeping it for themselves.

They are sacrificial. It costs an encourager to give this kind of encouragement. 

If we released the blessing that God has given us for others He will bless us with more (Matthew 25:29).

If we released the blessing we will not be placing church leaders under pressure that leads them to financial agreements when trying to raise funds for the church.

Funny story: 
A pentecostal pastor received a phone call from a woman wanting to arrange a funeral for her beloved dog. She said, “I’ve called several churches, and none of the churches will do a funeral for my dog. Every church I called laughed at my request." 
The pentecostal preacher said, "I am curious as to why you want this done." 
She said, "Well, I just loved that dog and I want a funeral for him.”
The preacher said, “that’s nice but we don’t do pet funerals.”
She then said, “I loved him, I’d be willing to give £10,000 to any church who would hold the funeral." "Oh," said the preacher, “why didn’t you tell me your dog was a pentecostal?”

Often our first thoughts are not about being generous. Being financially generous flies against the culture. We want to know what is in it for us. 

The payback for us may be tangible or intangible. Often it is merely the joy in knowing we are making a difference to someone’e life or to the mission of the church.

God loves a cheerful giver. Giving is no joke though. Giving starts in the heart:
2 Corinthians 9:6-11:  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

The word translated here as “cheerful” is the Greek word ἱλαρός (hilaros). You might recognise the word. It is from this that we derive our English word “hilarious.” We might therefore think, for example, that tithing shouldn't just be joyous, it should be “hilarious.” The problem with this view is that English word hilarious, though it may be derived from the Greek, still carries a different meaning to the modern hearer than it did for the original audience.

Strong (word # 2430) defines the word simply as “joyous, cheerful, not grudging.” HELPS Word Studies expounds on this a little: “properly, propitious; disposed because satisfied – describing someone who is cheerfully ready to act because already approving ("already persuaded"). 

hilarós ("won over, already inclined") is only used in 
2 Cor 9:7 where it describes spontaneously non-reluctant giving.

Giving - but being generous - is a form of worship. Everything we have is given to us by God (John 1:16). When we give, we give back a portion of what God has given to us. We should want to do this. 

It should be done with a glad heart and not begrudgingly. 

Barnabas was known for his generosity.

2. He was Sacrificially Gracious
Barnabas hung around with people the rest of the church didn't really want to know. He stood besides people when they needed a friend and a mentor. Sometimes this would have put his own reputation at risk.

The first time is at the conversion of the apostle Paul. Paul, as many of you know, was the chief enemy of the church before his conversion. He had persecuted many believers because of their faith. When he accepted Christ there were many who were skeptical of his conversion. Barnabas stood up for him. 
Acts 9:27:But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus

Barnabas stood beside him when he needed a friend.

Another time when Barnabas displayed this quality was with a young man named John Mark.
John Mark had started off well in the Christian life. He was growing. He was going on mission trips. He was supporting his spiritual leaders. Then, for unknown reasons, he let the team down: 

Acts 15:36-41: Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

He had been with Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey and turned back. We do not know what happened. He may have gotten home sick. He may have gotten tired of the trials of travel.
He may have experienced doubts. 

Later on he changed his mind and decided to make another missionary journey. Paul did not want to take him. Paul was apprehensive. Not Barnabas! He was willing to give Mark a second chance. This disagreement caused a short term separation between Paul and Barnabas, who had been missionary companions.

Here’s an interesting thing to note: someone who is predisposed to encouraging does not always say what you want to hear: Barnabas told Paul he was wrong.
We have sappy, soppy notion of encouragement. We we think it means we will always have agreement, always be in unity, always be agreeable. Sometimes to show encouragement to one person is to show disagreement to another.

Note another thing here too: Barnabas had encouraged Paul but now Paul, who had been on other receiving end of the encouragement, does not want to show the same love and encouragement to someone else.

To be encouraged you have to receive it. To be an encourager, you have to give it.

At some point Paul must have learnt this simple lesson for later he calls for Mark to join him again in ministry (2 Timothy 4:11)

See the Godliness-potential in those around you and encourage them. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Encouragers strengthen those around them. They build them up. They spur them on. 

Recently Barbie started doing park runs. She dragged me along with her after a few weeks. We are not the fastest. To keep moving you have to keep going a bit faster each week. Now we are so far at the back that we have purchased ourselves Park Run tops so that the organisers knows we are actually part of the event. Every time we pass a steward, they shout at us. Now that’s not nice right? We don’t think that’s kind. But they are shouting, “Good running! Keep going! You can do it! Not far to go!” So we pick up the pace.

But that’s not even the biblical view of encouragement. 

The root of Joseph’s nick name: Luke, who wrote Acts, writes that the apostles gave Barnabas his nickname and explains it to mean Son Of Encouragement (Acts 4:36), which is not a linear translation but rather a paraphrase. The word that Luke uses is παρακλησις (paraklesis), which describes the act of calling people closer together, onto closer intimacy and stronger comfort. It comes from the verb παρακλεω (parakaleo), which in turn is a construct of the words παρα (para), which expresses the notion of immediate vicinity or proximity, and the verb καλεω (kaleo), meaning to call. (

Simply put, Barnabas was one who’d walk beside you when you needed it most. 

Wrapping this up:
Walk closer to those around you. 
Let them see how you live and be an example to them. 

Live generously with your time and money. Don’t withhold the blessing within you that is for someone else.