Bible Study Notes (12-7-08)

by

FrieNdShip

 

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,

but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 18:24

PAUL AND BARNABAS

Lastly, we come to the beginning. How a true friend begins a friendship and how blind, dare I say, that a true friend really is. Saul of Tarsus was a genocidal fanatic. You were Christian? He’d like to kill ya. He stood, holding peoples coats as they stoned the first Christian martyr to death so they would not be bloodied. One day, he was bringing a letter to a town called Damascus. That letter gave him permission to round up the Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem for… judging. As he rides along on his horse, BAM! Blinding light, falls off his horse and hears, (Acts 9:4-8) “‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.” He goes to Damascus and finds a man waiting for him who timidly heals him. This man, Ananias, tells Saul, (Acts 9:17-19) “‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.” Shortly after he started proclaiming the Gospel in the synagogues. Of course doing so angers people, so he winds up going where? JERUSALEM! He gets there and is not met with open arms. He’s met with cold stares, distrust, sideways glances. Whispers of, “This man is a murderer. He’s faking. He wants to come in here and root us out. Don’t talk to him my little child, he’s no good.” Ever walk into church and have the usher side-step you? The greater NOT great you? That’s what happened to Saul. He tried telling them the story, but they walked away. Not Saul! Of TARSUS!? No… Look what happens in Acts 9:27, “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.” Barnabas, whose very name means “son of consolation (comfort),” stepped up. Said to Saul, “Hey. I heard your story. My name is Barnabas.” Someone ever walk up to you who saw what you looked liked, had your past written all over you and say, “Hi. My name is…” then do this? Shake your hand. Or this? Embrace you. They act in the spirit of Barnabas. They act in the sprit of true friendship which shows acceptance of a person (in Christ… remember that golden thread) regardless of their past. Paul as Saul later became known writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I wonder if when he wrote this he remembered that first handshake from his buddy, Barnabas. And going on then to fulfill his purpose, God’s calling. He writes in Galatians 2:9, “James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.” That one little handshake helped changed the world. Saul met the apostles, and went out as Paul to the Gentiles planting churches and bearing witness as the “chief of sinners” to the glory of God. One handshake, one embrace. Have you been blessed enough for that happen to you? Have you been as Barnabas to someone?

LESSON: True friendship shows acceptance regardless of one’s past.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

·         Explain which attribute(s) of God Barnabas shows which we should also show.

 

·         How does fellowship benefit the Christian? (Heb 10-24-25)

 

·         It takes a lot of openness to welcome a stranger. It may be a long commitment. It leaves you open to hurt. So why do it?

 

·         See Proverbs 27:17.  Explain what this means and how it applies.

 

 

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