Lift Up Part One Encourage by Support by Crossing Barriers Ministry

Johnny was a happy man.  He had a great job at the factory working 3-11 five days a week with weekends off.  Along with his wife, they shared a single-family home with two cars.

Then the pandemic hit.  The factory started reducing hours due to the shortage in orders and Johnny’s savings started to evaporate.  Times were getting tough. Johnny was getting discouraged and worried – just needed to see a sign of encouragement that it would turn around.

Then Covid hit.  Johnny got the call at the factory Friday afternoon that his wife was diagnosed with Covid and would be staying at the hospital.  Johnny was required to quarantine. Lonely, heartbroken, and angry were some of the feelings that came to mind for Johnny.

Thirty days later, Johnny’s wife passed away with Covid complications.  There was no funeral, just a memorial where only a handful of family & friends could attend. 

Then Covid hit again.  Several workers at the factory had tested positive and the factory was closing till further notice.  Johnny was clear because it happened while he was quarantined but still no work.

Eventually the savings expired, credit cards were to the max and Johnny was selling belongings just to survive day to day.  They repossessed her car, and the foreclosure notice came.  The days were numbered. He sold the rest of the belongings in the house, put the rest in a storage locker, and packed some belongings in his car.  They came and took the house and while he was at a meeting in town, they towed his last car. 

Johnny was officially homeless and the pandemic still raging on. There were no openings at the shelters leaving Johnny to find a store doorstep to curl up with a blanket that someone gave him for the night.  He joined the thousands of unhoused looking for meals every day.  He was down on his luck and for Johnny, he thought life was over. The sad part, for some in this position, they believe life is over.

Acts 4:36-37 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, the son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

With that opening, we could have done another version of The Good Samaritan.  Johnny is a sad story and reality is that there are thousands in that same position.  However, apart from those like Johnny, how many here need just an uplifting word, maybe a prayer, or just a friendly smile, or better yet just someone to sit and listen to your problems?

Today’s message is titled “Lift Up”.  Encouragement is defined as 1) The act of giving someone support, confidence, or hope; 2) persuasion to do something or to continue something; and 3) the act of trying to stimulate the development of an activity, state, or belief.

At this point, Barnabas will play a greater role in the book of Acts. This will mainly be about extending the mission of the church to the gentiles.

Acts 9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Support

God uses Barnabas to encourage in Acts to build others up and support them in their work for the Kingdom, especially Paul.

The ancient Jewish writer Philo, A Hellenistic Jewish philosopher from Alexandria, Egypt who lived in the first century AD, mentions Jewish colonies

On the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Barnabas and Paul will visit Cypress on their first missionary journey

Acts 13:4 So, they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

And Barnabas will return later with John Mark.

Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, truly this man was the Son of God.

Verse 37 refers to bringing the money and we are told that it’s similar to another verse in the book of Acts:

Acts 4:34-35 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

The narrative portrays Barnabas as an individual Christian who puts the needs of the community first, without regard to himself. Luke (the narrator) will present Ananias and Sapphira as the antithesis to Barnabas.

Acts 5:1-11 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, how is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

The above account of Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, is full of ironic and sad twists. The story demonstrates how seriously people should take their commitments before God

It is time to come forward thousands of years to today’s story.  Johnny is in a big hole and the only way out is to climb one step at a time.

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

What does Johnny need in the way of support?  He is starting with a few clothes, no money, no regular meals, and no place to lay his head.  Pretty tall order but not a do it all at one time list.  It might also be pointed out that our ministry policy is as we help, we like to see the client also helping themselves.

An outreach worker arranged for some clean outfits and a shower. That was a great support and created a spark in Johnny. Looking like a new man, Johnny was able to go to the Unemployment office and started searching for a job.

Hebrews 13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

As we leave today, this week’s challenge is for all of you to find someone that you can support in some way. We are to be humble, so no one will be required to tell us what they did.  Just remember God will be please.

Lift someone up with encouragement – God will be pleased.

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