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A Cup Of Strength (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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December 5, 2022 6:00 am

A Cup Of Strength (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 5, 2022 6:00 am

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Summit Life
J.D. Greear

If we have not biblical courage within our hope, then how do we differ from the world? I've got to have something that distinguishes me from the person who doesn't have Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

And I think that the struggle to have that distinction often creates a hopeless state. I try, but my flesh prevails so often, and I become hopeless in my quest to be righteous and to be Christ-like. Don't let that happen. Just keep on.

Just keep on swinging that little sword of yours. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of Acts.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the Book of Acts, chapter 11, as he begins his message, A Cup of Strength. He's open to the Book of Acts, chapter 11. The Book of Acts, chapter 11. Look at verses 19 through 26.

The title of this message is A Cup of Strength. Our text is Acts 11, verse 25. Verse 25, Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. Loaded into that one verse is a great amount of our New Testament.

Let's consider verses 19 through 26. Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch.

So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. I got goosebumps reading that. I hope you paid attention to it because the context is critical. We are considering Barnabas. Once again, verse 25 of chapter 11 is our text. That's the flagship.

It gives the command to everything else that's going on in this morning's analysis. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. Somewhere in Jerusalem, these two had met about nine years earlier, about, before this verse that I just read, verse 25. These are two of the most vital men in the New Testament.

I didn't say the most, I said two of the most. And before I open it up, I want to say that the New Testament tells the grimmest tragedy in human history. Of course, the crucifixion of the Son of God. It should therefore be a depressing book, you would think, but it is not. On the contrary, it is the most heartening book in all of human history ever to be written and that ever will be written this side of heaven.

It has inspired a type of hope that roars against the roars of the lion, Satan. In 1 Peter, chapter 5, Peter said, be sober. Peter liked that word.

He uses it three times in that letter. He did not want Christians to be reckless with their faith. You've met the type of Christian. I'm a Christian and therefore they think that anything they say is going to have weight behind it. They'll say, you know, God has told me, God has shown me, and there's nothing wrong with that if God has indeed done it and the facts establish it, but oftentimes there's a lack of sobriety. He says, be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

Be sober, be hardworking, because Satan's not playing. That's what he is telling the Christians. I get the feeling that there are some who go through their Christian lives with only hope.

That's all. They just keep hoping. And they seem only to have hope that's built on sand. They have the Lord's name, they have saved, but there's really nothing more going on than that. I would not want to come to church, for example, only to be patched up. Every Sunday I come to church hoping the pastor's going to say something that's going to make me more comfortable in my hope, and that is the extent of my walk. That would mean I would be missing out on my Christ-given birthright to be a light, to be Christ-like, to be aggressive in my faith, militant against evil and sin and wickedness. The more Christ-like I can become, the more glory to God. I prefer coming to church to be reinforced for serving, for serving Christ in church and out of church. Not doing my own thing, but doing the things that I know God has impressed upon my heart, and that is actually a blessing.

One of the prophets said to one of the kings, For the eyes of Yahweh run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him. Would you want a pastor to week after week come up and tell you it's going to be okay, it's going to be okay? I would not get very strong from that after a while.

I would get very weak because there are a lot of things that aren't okay, and they're not going to be okay. I don't want to be on a plane that's crashing and saying, Oh, it's going to be okay, unless everybody here is saved. I believe that those who have only hope don't know that hope alone is insufficient for effective service, for effective Christianity.

And this perhaps is something that stood out to me so much. I have always, I've known it in my walk, but to have it articulated in my heart by the Holy Spirit, that it's not enough to have hope, it's not enough to have love. They are vital, they are critical, but they're not enough. You know, those that are always looking for encouragement, but really not giving any encouragement fall into this category. They're just receiving, receiving, and there's a time, there's a time to weep, there's a time when we need comfort, there's a time when we even need to be coddled, but not all the time. Many times when we get to that place in life where all we have is hope and that's how we live our lives, we end up draining our environment of those things that are helpful, of the cheer that should be there instead of the doldrums.

We then start living beneath our potential. All right, that's the set up. That is the preparation for what's coming. This man, Barnabas, the man with the name that is loaded.

It is a loaded cannon. That's what his name is. Not because he bore the name, but because he was worthy of the name. God frequently assigned nicknames.

Even into the book of Revelation in chapter 2 he's telling them, you know, you stick with me and I'll give you a name. Jacob. He gave Jacob the name Israel.

Jacob means the trickster, the con artist. But after God touched him and he walked the same no more, his name was now Israel, believed to be the one governed by God now. When Jesus met impetuous Simon, he gave him a new name, the stone, the movable stone. Christ is the immovable rock. And Peter is this chip off the rock, you could say. He's like the big rock, he's just not as big. And he called him Peter, Petros. Petros. Proverbs 22, a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches. Well, he's saying, you become a billionaire, but you're hated because you're evil.

The contrast is in that. Unfortunately, giving out tasteful nicknames to people has died out. I grew up in a time when nicknames were still, you know, going around. I would like a nickname like, you know, the gentle one. The soft spoken.

I admire that when I find it in other people because I don't find it in me. Financially, Barnabas was well off and a Levite. He was a spiritual man by birth and he was a generous, wealthy man. Acts chapter four, we read of him the first time in the New Testament or in the Bible. Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles, which is translated son of encouragement. So the name Barnabas means the son of encouragement. His given name, Joses, is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joseph, we would say. Joseph more closely in the Hebrew. And that name means that God will add, God will increase. It was an old and honored name. In fact, he had been named for the one, one of the twelve sons of Jacob that God used to save his people from starvation.

It was an honorable name. But the disciples saw something more. The hand picked men of Jesus Christ. Let's not forget these apostles that changed his name. They were hand picked by Christ and they saw something more in this man.

Actually, it kind of fits, does it not? God will add and God adds a nickname to his given name, encouragement, because of his ability to build others up. His ability to build people up. I am attracted to that.

That makes me part of the solution. Such people stand out because they are the anti-venom to those who are discouragers and discouragement. You can find discouragement without people.

But, when you find people, you're not going to be without some that will discourage you at some point. In the Bible, the name stands for nature. That's why God would change names. When the Lord gave a name for someone, it was identifying a nature, a target, something to shoot for. So when Jacob's name was changed from the heel catcher, the con artist, you could say, the one that sort of exploits people to the one governed by God. There was a significance that belonged to that as it does here with Barnabas, the encourager.

Name is nature. Not all live up to an honorable name. Barnabas retained the nickname for the rest of his life because he continued to live up to it. It was not a flash in the pan where he was encouraging God back then.

But life has beat him up and now he's cynical. That was not Barnabas. He suffered with Paul in ministry and we have no indication that the spirit of encouragement that God placed in his heart ever waned. Five times Paul refers to him as Barnabas in his writings.

And those writings cover a few decades. And so there you have the name still glowing, still a beacon, still a name that when said, it kind of warms the heart. The Greek word, consolation, comforter, encourager. That's what his name is in the Greek.

It's the same. It's the same word used by Jesus in pronoun form for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the great comforter. He is the helper.

That is an accurate translation of the Paraclete. He is the one that comes beside you to assist you. An advocate. We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Son. We have an advocate in the Holy Spirit. We are to have advocates amongst each other. Ask yourself, do I support? Do I encourage?

Or do I drain the environment of cheer? Even the weakest Christian can encourage. When Jesus said this about the Holy Spirit, he says, but when the helper, some translations use the word comforter, both are correct.

Paraclete in the Greek. When the helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify of me. He will preach of me. Jesus used that word of the Holy Spirit twice in that one sermon.

Well, in John 14, 15, and 16, that one discourse that he gave to his disciples. He refers to the Holy Spirit of God, or God the Holy Spirit, as the comforter. The helper. I like helper better because comforter sort of limits it. Sort of implies that he'll just make me feel better, but helper means he might throw me into the battle and help me while I'm not feeling so good.

I like that one. It means one coming to the aid of another. This was Barnabas. This is the Holy Spirit. It tells the kind of man that Barnabas was. I wonder what people will say when I'm in heaven and they're still on earth about me. I'm not trying to turn the sermon into talking about me.

I'm saying it in a rhetorical sense because it would evoke in your own mind, hopefully, what will people say about me? He owed me ten bucks. That name that he bore, that he earned, tells the craft to which he applied himself. A skill. And skills are perishable.

You know, if you're good at something and you stop doing it, you get bad at that thing, or at least worse than what you were. How tragic to give one's life to something that the world does not need. You see, from a Christian perspective that means something.

From a worldly perspective, it does not. Maybe not, but it really doesn't register with the same intensity, the identical power behind it because of our association with the throne of God, well done, good and faithful servant. When Jesus says that to me, and I hope he does, my first thought was going to be, you're talking to me?

I'm the good and faithful servant, you must be talking about this one. How tragic, again, to give one's life to something that the world does not need. We are to give the world what it doesn't have and what it does need. That is Jesus Christ. But to be skilled enough in giving Christ to the world, to be skilled enough to pour from my cup into the cup of another strength.

Just to give someone a cup of strength, especially to the weakened soul, that is skill. With words, with words of life from scripture, Barnabas could give a spine to the spineless if they were willing to receive it. He would give them courage. Hope needs courage. Not enough to hope.

I have to have something else. I have to have courage if I'm going to hope properly. If I want hope that is built on rock, I have to have courage.

It is important because it is essential to joy in life. Take courage out of your life and how can you have fun? This is one reason why so many Christians come to church and all they want to do is be patched up all the time. Instead of saying, send me in.

Give me some action. I'm ready to build up others. We serve Christ better when we are brave. But Satan knows that if he can keep us fearful, we can't serve so well. Love makes us brave and out of that love, there is hope in situations that are uncertain and frightening for us and there's where we need courage to be activated within our hearts. We have our responsibilities and one of them is to fight fear. I know there are times you try to fight the fear and it just won't die but you're still fighting it and that's courage. Courage is duty while afraid, while frightened. You're doing what you have been assigned to do nonetheless. The world has pulled us off.

Many times they still do. Battle fields are littered with stories of those who had courage under fire. We serve Christ better when we're brave.

That's true but I'm not always brave. Love and hope, they need courage and I don't want to lose sight of that and it's so easy to lose sight of that. We get so centered on the beast before us, the problem at hand, the shadow of death is terrifying unless we remember my role here in the shadow of death is to be strong. Whatever treasure or talent you may possess, whatever blessings God has bestowed upon you, if you've lost your courage or if you have an unrealistic hope, you become a liability more than an asset at that moment. Then we're miserable, likely making others miserable around us too.

When hope dies we lose our zest not only for serving but even for living. This explains the cynical and the jaded individual. You younger Christians, you really haven't been around long enough hopefully to be cynical yet unless you've learned it from someone.

An adult can teach you to be cynical, criticize everybody, everything, all the time, automatically. To be jaded is so what's the use? What's the, you know, ministers, pastors, they have to fight that.

At some point in their ministry they're going to get to a place where they're going to say, why bother? Because the cycles, you know, the things keep coming around. There's a time to be happy and there's a time not to be so happy.

And then you get happy again and then something happens and it's cycled. And after a while you say, I'm sick of this treadmill. Christ says, you have no right to be sick of it. You're a servant. And to that the believer would say, Amen. And may I never forget it, I'm a bondservant of Jesus Christ. I am a bond slave. I am a willing subject to the King.

When hope dies, this explains so much. But if we have not biblical courage within our hope, then how do we differ from the world? I've got to have something that distinguishes me from the person who doesn't have Jesus as my Lord and Savior. And I think that the struggle to have that distinction often creates a hopeless state. I try, but my flesh prevails so often and I become hopeless in my quest to be righteous and to be Christ-like.

Don't let that happen. Just keep on. Just keep on swinging that little sword of yours.

It's better to swing a little sword than no sword at all. And when we are not an asset, we are a liability if we lose this courage that belongs to hope and to love. Regardless of how many gifts we have, as I've mentioned, not even the mighty Elijah, that mighty prophet of the Old Testament was of any use when he lost his courage. He laid hold of hopelessness instead. And there he sat under a broom tree complaining about his life. In fact, what happened in that story, to get to that place where he sat under a broom tree whining about his life and his condition, it came right after the super victory for God.

There he was on Mount Carmel. One prophet versus 800 other prophets, false prophets. He said, the God who answers by fire, he is God. Lightning came down on the altar that was drenched with water and ignited it and proved that Elijah's God was God and their God was false and the false prophets were then slaughtered. Well, that did not sit well with Ahab and Jezebel, especially Jezebel, that wicked Sidonian princess that slithered her way into the northern kingdom's palace. What happened next is she sends a note to Elijah when he comes back from the victory and the note says, I'm going to have you killed. And the Bible says it just like this, Elijah ran for his life. He ran far, he leaves his servant behind and he keeps running and he sits under the tree. Spurgeon said of that moment in the scripture, he said, Elijah retreated before a beaten enemy.

I need to hear stuff like that as a Christian so that I can avoid it. 1 Kings chapter 19, but he himself went a day's journey after he left his servant behind into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree and he prayed that he might die and said, it is enough. Now, Yahweh, take my life for I am no better than my fathers. In that is a suggestion that Elijah thought he was, you know, I'm serving.

Those are, many of my fathers are apostates and they were. He felt so alone, so depressed, he failed God after this giant victory. He needed a great encourager. At this moment, he needed someone like Barnabas to come along and say, it'd be alright, we can recover, we can fight our way out of this. But there was none, so God sent an angel. The next verse, then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him and he said, arise and eat, get up and eat. You've got work to do.

You're not fired. You're still in it, Elijah. There's no victory for the devil.

This is going to be more ministry for you. He's likely sleeping because he's so depressed. By the way, depression did not keep David from writing psalms of praise, hope and courage. David tells us he was depressed. Why are you cast down my soul? He says that three times in two psalms, right, lined up together. But in Psalm 31, David said, be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in Yahweh.

Well, Yahweh is Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Be of courage spoken by a man who knew what depression was. And so Elijah failed. God builds him back up.

David was depressed at times. God built him back up. The legacy that Barnabas has left to the church is astounding. Thanks for joining us for today's teaching on Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. We hope you've been blessed by this believers basic series, exploring the fundamentals of what it means to follow Christ. If you'd like to listen to more of this series or share it with someone you know, please visit Cross Reference Radio dot com. We encourage you to subscribe to our podcast, too, so you'll never miss another edition. Just visit Cross Reference Radio dot com and follow the links under radio. Again, that's Cross Reference Radio dot com. That's all for today. We hope you'll tune in next time to continue studying the Word of God right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-05 06:16:26 / 2022-12-05 06:25:38 / 9

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