This morning I posted a heartfelt and serious impromptu video directed at my youngest daughter.
However, it’s for everybody.
This morning I posted a heartfelt and serious impromptu video directed at my youngest daughter.
However, it’s for everybody.
I’m just a simple ol’ preacher
I know what I know, I think
But when I’m around the scholars
I find that my knowledge stinks
They impress with their didactic polemics
And their proofs of amanuenses
But at the risk of sounding solipsistic
I know that I know I have Jesus
– Anthony Baker
This is the view from my windshield as I was leaving the home of a church member.
Honestly, I miss the internet speeds of Gig City (Chattanooga), but you can have the traffic and the hustle.
This is where I belong, now.
This is my fourth time preaching/teaching through the book of Acts, and yes, I’m still learning things. Even though it’s all been over Facebook on Sunday evenings, it’s still been exciting (especially chapter 12 – I’ll included a link at the end – you should watch it).
But one person stands out to me, especially at this time in my ministry. How he is described is what I am lacking in my own life. When I read of him and preach about him, I am convicted. Wouldn’t it be nice if people thought my name was different than what it is?
Every pastor, to one degree or another, should be more like Barnabas. Yes, I want to be seen as a reflection of Jesus, but Barnabas was certainly that. So, if they every forget my name, Barnabas Baker would work.
Barnabas was a Levite from the country of Cyprus who became a follower of Christ. He was a generous man, a godly man, and one whose name fit his personality; he was the “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36-37).
Barnabas was the type of guy that truly cared about people and wanted to see them succeed. He was more than just a team player; he was a motivator, the kind of man who would step down from the pedestal so that someone else could shine. As a matter of fact, it was Barnabas who introduced Saul (Paul), the former persecutor of Christians, to the church at Jerusalem (talk about having someone’s back!).
But in preaching through chapter 11 of Acts, I came across a description of Barnabas that left me very convicted. The way Barnabas was described should be how we are described: good people, full of the Holy Ghost, and full of faith (11:24).
The first thing said about Barnabas was that he was “a good man.” Now, a lot of people think they are good people, but not all are. As a matter of fact, there’s no other place in Acts where Luke describes a person as “good.” Only Barnabas gets that distinction.
Being described as “good” meant that he was a man with whom no one could find fault. He must have been a man of strong character, a man who kept his word, and a man who would do anything for anybody, including give the last coin to one in need. He was the kind of man Jesus was talking about when He said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good” (Luke 6:45). Barnabas was genuine, the “real deal.”
Barnabas was also “full of the Holy Ghost.” What does that mean? Well first off, let’s think about the description of “full.”
The Greek word translated as “full” is one that meant not only to be filled up but filled up to the point of overflowing. Barnabas was totally yielded and filled with the Spirit, so much so that His presence spilled over onto others. The “son of consolation” was an encourager, just like the Spirit controlling and empowering him.
Barnabas was not only full of the Holy Ghost but also of faith. Simply put, Barnabas was fully convinced and persuaded with what he believed to be true. There was no doubting, no hesitation, no reluctance, no hiding, no timidity. Barnabas was sure in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is one reason he was sent by the church in Jerusalem to see what was going on in Antioch of Syria.
Now, let’s look at what happened because of Barnabas’ character, his spiritual power, and his sure faith.
“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.” – Acts 11:23-24
First, because he was a good man, he was not jealous of the good things happening in Antioch; he rejoiced that the grace of God had been poured out on the believers there!
Second, because he was full of the Holy Ghost, what was in his heart (as Jesus described) had to be shared, so he “exhorted” them and encouraged them in their faith.
Third, because Barnabas knew what temptations and trials could come, especially with the persecution following Stephen’s death fresh on his mind, he encouraged the new believers to be pro-active in their devotion to the Christ. He knew that the only way to have a strong faith is to purposefully “cleave unto the Lord.”
Fourth, many people were added unto the Lord! Because of the spirituality and faith and character of godly Barnabas, not only were new believers in Antioch strengthened, but many more people came to know Christ!
Here’s the thing. Why aren’t more people coming to a saving faith in Jesus? Why aren’t more of our churches encouraged? Why aren’t more Christians spiritually maturing in their faith? It’s because we don’t have enough men and women like Barnabas.
Be a good person! Seriously, be the type of man or woman that people can trust and rely on. Be the type of person that people can tell you care. Be generous, compassionate, trustworthy, and consistent. Be people of honor and character.
Be filled with the Spirit! Do you know what it means to be completely filled with the Holy Ghost of God? It means there are no little rooms, closets, or boxes in your heart where there is written a note to God which says, “Private! Hands off!” Every are of your life – every secret part – should be yielded to and controlled by the Spirit of God. Otherwise, you are self-controlled and rebellious, and thereby powerless.
Be full of faith! Grow your faith. Study God’s Word. Know why you believe what you believe. Don’t be a coward! If you are shy or feel intimidated to share your faith with others, ask yourself why that’s so!
Would you be afraid to warn your neighbor a murderer was crawling through his bedroom window? Would you be afraid to yell “fire!” if flames were engulfing the rooms of a hotel where people were sleeping? It’s only because you are NOT full of faith that you are not bold; you have doubts the fire is real and the murderer really means to harm.
You and I need to be more like Barnabas.
On Monday afternoon I did a Facebook LIVE devotional for my church congregation. It became very personal and displayed more transparency than I intended.
But, you know what? Maybe that’s exactly what a lot of people needed. Honesty.
Both broadcasts were uploaded to YouTube. The morning service was pre-recorded, uploaded to YouTube, scheduled as a premier, and shared to Facebook.
The evening Bible study in Acts 7 was first done live on Facebook, then saved, then uploaded to YouTube. Fortunately, the in-out focus that usually accompanies the live video (because of our area’s SLOW internet) was not there!
If you are blessed, encouraged, or convicted by either, I would love to hear from you!
Every day at 2 p.m. I do a live devotional and prayer time on Facebook. This is in addition to Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night.
All total, I am either live or showing recorded content eight times a week. That’s way, way more than what I was doing before this pandemic forced everything online! But it’s all good.
His grace is sufficient for the challenge.
The theme for this week’s videos was found in Exodus 23, verses 29 and 30. In those verses God says that He would not drive out Israel’s enemies all at once, only little by little.
God was capable of wiping out all of Israel’s enemies. He was more than strong enough. However, doing things as a matter of process was better for the land and God’s people (verse 29).
God could have given the children of Israel everything at once, but his desire for them (and us) was to mature through adversity. Even more, He wants us to become more and more sanctified (set apart for His glory and use) through the purging away of worldly idolatries that trap and destroy us.
Therefore, This afternoon I pulled a book off one of my shelves and flipped through it until I found what fit the theme of this week’s devotions. In the book Lists to Live By: The Christian Collection For Everything That Really Matters I found on page 48 and 49 “20 Tough Questions.”
This afternoon I shared the first 10 with those watching live on Facebook.
As you can see, these are not easy questions for most people to answer. They weren’t completely easy for me, if you want to know the honest truth.
But the fact is, if we are not struggling, and certainly if we are not growing and maturing in our Christian walk and faith in God, then we cannot expect to claim the blessings awaiting in the yet-to-be-conquered “promised land.”
I’ll share the remaining “tough questions” in the next post.
Yes, it has been a while since my youngest daughter, Haley, has heard me preach. However, this morning she was with my wife as thy watched the service from home.
Even before we left Soddy Daisy and South Soddy Baptist, Haley had started attending another, larger church several miles away. I couldn’t fault her, for she had grown up hearing me preach every Sunday. At least she would now be going to church on her own, not feeling obligated as my child to attend. That’s a good thing, right?
So, yes, it has been a while since Haley has sat in a room when I preached. The closest she’s been in a year was today, and that was a bedroom, not an auditorium. I do miss her.
This afternoon, no more than an hour ago, I asked Haley, “Did you notice any difference in the way I preached today compared to at Riverside or South Soddy?”
Have you ever received a comment that you couldn’t quite tell it’s meaning? In other words, have you ever been told something that could be interpreted as either a good thing or a bad thing, and you just didn’t know how to take it? And have you ever received one of those kinds of comments and not wanted to go deeper for fear it might have actually been derogatory and not complimentary?
That’s the kind of feedback I got from my daughter. I didn’t know how to take it.
“Uhh, well, you’re more of a Bible-thumper,” she said with a cool, matter-of-fact tone.
It’s hard to describe the feeling I got when she said that. At one moment I was both hurt and indignant; sad and elated; depressed and emboldened.
“That could be a good thing, I suppose” was my reply.
- an evangelist or other person who quotes the Bible frequently, especially as a means of exhortation or rebuke. – Dictionary.com
- an aggressively zealous advocate of Christian fundamentalism. – Merriam-Webster
- Used as a disparaging term for a Christian, especially a fundamentalist or evangelical Christian, considered to be overly zealous in haranguing or censuring others. – TheFreeDictionary.com
Or, maybe it’s not.
I guess it hurts, coming from my little girl. I just hope she can see beyond the delivery of the sermon to the Truth of the message.
Should you want to decide for yourself, feel free to watch the attached video from this morning’s streamed service.
(Please excuse the poor video resolution, but in this part of the country the upload speed is only 3-6 Mbps, so I have to set my iPhone to the lowest setting, which is 720p.)
Tomorrow is Easter, the day that we celebrate the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. But here it is the night before, the night before the celebrations, and few of us have any idea of the sense of total despair the followers of Jesus must have been experiencing on this night – the night before.
For three and a half years his disciples had followed Him around, listening to His stories, His parables, and His prayers. They had witnessed miracle after miracle which should have confirmed to them His claims to be the Messiah. Yet, just two days ago they witnessed the supposed Son of God, the “resurrection and the life” (that’s what he told Mary and Martha, you know, on the day He raised Lazarus from the dead), betrayed, beaten, falsely convicted, and tortuously crucified.
Then, after his tormentors had done all they could do, Jesus died. It was pretty obvious to all who were present.
It grew dark and the earth shook violently, as to add insult to injury, for even creation sensed the tragedy of it all.
They saw Him buried.
Some ran…some huddled as they hid…would they be next?
What of the “Kingdom” the Jesus had spoken of?
What good were the words “he that believeth on me shall not die, but have everlasting life” if the one saying it could be unjustly convicted, abandoned by heaven, and left to die in the most disgraceful and painful way? How could HE make such a promise if HE could die?
It was the night before, just like tonight, yet there was no anticipation of worship services or egg hunts – only the expectation of another sunrise without the Son.
They were afraid…broken…discouraged…faithless…confused…angry…directionless…without hope…
They were totally unprepared for what was about to happen, because the last thing they were thinking of was that this was…
the night before.
We may be 230 years old, but that doesn’t stop us from streaming at high speed!
Join me on Facebook LIVE as I lead us in worship each Sunday at 11 and 6, Wednesdays at 6:30, and also every weekday around 2pm.
Bethlehem Baptist Church, Warthen, GA.