Pastor Carolyn Poteet

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July 14, 2019


Carolyn Poteet


"Building Foundations "


Psalm 111:1-10
Acts 11:19-26

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July 11, 2019

"When [Barnabas] arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch." 
              - Acts 11:23-26

Greetings in the Name of the Lord, Jesus Christ!
Besides Jesus, who is your favorite character in the Bible? Do you have one or hundreds? My favorites often depend on which Bible stories I'm currently reading! Peter is often one of my favorites, because he is just so easy to relate to. He can boldly climb out of the boat in one moment and panic in front of the waves the next.

As we study Acts, I am reminded that Barnabas is another favorite. I have admired him since I first discovered his name meant the Son of Encouragement. He is a favorite not because I can relate to him but because I aspire to be like him.

When we think through the book of Acts and the life of the early church, Barnabas is not usually the first name that pops into our minds. Paul and Peter are the ones with the lead roles. But as we watch for Barnabas throughout Acts, we see he shows up at critical junctures. We can learn much through his faithfulness, generosity, and humility.

He first appeared in Acts 4, mentioned almost as a footnote as one who generously donated money from the sale of his property. In Acts 5, we see why that footnote was necessary, when Ananias and Saphira stand in sharp contrast with Barnabas' selfless action.

This past week, we saw Barnabas as the one who was willing to be the bridge for Paul to meet the other apostles in Jerusalem. Barnabas welcomed the one of whom everyone else was afraid. He saw in Paul the makings of a powerful witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ, and he was willing to risk his life to bring Paul into the family of faith.

This coming Sunday, we will be continuing the story as it unfolds in Acts 11 and 12. This time, Barnabas is placed in the lead. He has been sent by the apostles to oversee the work God is doing in Antioch. Many Jews and Gentiles are coming to faith in Christ, and they see him as the perfect man to head up this effort. He arrives and rejoices in what God is doing. But he sees something beyond what they see. He sees the perfect opportunity to mentor a risky young leader who is specially anointed for working with Gentiles. Barnabas leaves the work, goes and finds Paul, and brings him back to Antioch.

What kind of leader gives away his greatest career opportunity to a former murderer? What kind of leader would risk the incredible work God was doing in Antioch by pulling in a person no one trusted? Acts 11:24 says, "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith." Barnabas's vision was on the Kingdom of God, not on himself. He did nothing out of "selfish ambition or vain conceit" (Philippians 2:3). He was willing to lay himself down so that the Kingdom of God could prosper. He knew Antioch could thrive under him, but God knew that the whole Empire could thrive if he invested in Paul.

What would it look like for us to be a church with a heart like Barnabas? If we put Kingdom priorities ahead of our own? If we gave selflessly? If we opened up opportunities for young people to lead even when we could do it ourselves? If we believed in them and invested in them? If we walked in the Holy Spirit and faith? If we did everything not out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but rather united together in the mind of Christ?

People like Barnabas are not the easiest to relate to, but they challenge us to see what could be. I have a long long way to go to be more like Barnabas. With the Holy Spirit and faith, I pray we can all develop a heart like his, which is a heart like Christ.

Pastor Carolyn
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