2nd Passage for Study: Study focus on Acts 9: 26 – 30 … Acts 9 linked for study …
My Journal for Today: Wow! I really identify with today’s passage from Acts 9 [ see verses 26-30]. Here we have the former hit-man for the Sanhedrin coming home to Jerusalem; and he desires to meet and become a part of the inner circle of the Apostles; but they won’t have anything to do with him because they’re afraid of his past.
Why? And the answer is simple … fear! They wouldn’t have anything to do with him because of his past “rep.” And it is with this I truly identify. In the year 2000, we began a ministry at my church which the Elders let me lead. It was – and still is – known as Battle Plan Ministry [BPM]; and BPM reaches out to help Christians who desire to walk free from habitual sexual sin. And many in my church knew that I became the leader of BPM because God had delivered and discipled me out that plague of habitual sin in my life, leading me to have burden to help others do the same. You can read about BPM by going to this link.
Well, as I began to lead BPM in my church, many of the men in our church didn’t want to be near me lest they might be identified as someone who needed the help of BPM. They simply didn’t want to be seen – because of fear – as having the problems with which BPM dealt. Ironically, many of them may have needed the help of BPM but stayed away from me, hiding their shame and their weakness from others. So, Bill Berry became the “Battle Plan Ministry guy;” and few would sit with me at men’s breakfasts or other church events. Couples shied away from being friends with my wife and I because of my identity and past baggage. The rejection was obvious and somewhat painful.
But like the Apostle Paul, a few “Barnabas” types came forward and became quiet encouragers. They were men who were led to stand with me; and a few of them were leaders in the church, Elders and Staff who let it be known that they were standing with Bill Berry and BPM no matter how emotionally laden was a ministry like this one. It felt great; and as I’m sure it must’ve felt for Paul, it was great encouragement for me to have someone stand with me when others were rejecting me out of fear. Barnabas became an advocate and a personal encourager for the Apostle Paul … a behind the scenes hero, who lived up to his very name, “Barnabas,” which means “son of encouragement” in Hebrew.
If you’ve had a past, I hope you have a Barnabas or two in your life who stands with you no matter what your past as been like. But if you don’t, take heed; … you still have Jesus; and He will never leave you nor forsake you (see Hebrews 13: 5, which is a restatement of Deut. 31: 6 or Joshua 1: 5. You may be rejected because of human fear or ignorance; but God can and will use your past for His glory if you let Him; so, stick in there, and pray that God sends you a Barnabas to help and encourage you in these times … until you can let the past baggage go and you can let God help you to carry it (see Matt. 11: 28-30).
My Prayer for Today: Lord, I’m so thankful You sent me several Barnabas supporters when I need them to lift me up. And You never forsake me when I’m doing Your work. Amen