Community Group Study Notes
Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
What was one thing that God brought to your attention through this message?
In what ways does the Holy Spirit encourage us? Why does He do that?
Why is it important that we use our voice to encourage others, just like the Spirit encourages us? What Gospel impact would this have on the people around us?
How will you personally and specifically apply this message in your life?
I'm so grateful that we get to come together to be able to worship because Jesus is worth our worship. He's worth every breath that we breathe. Every song that we sing, every prayer that we pray He's worthy of it, He's worthy of his name He's worthy of our worship, that the fruit of our lips would come forth in praise, right and righteousness. So I thank God for that. And thank God for the opportunity to be with you wherever you may be listening to this. I'm just thankful that we have the opportunity to be together and to take an opportunity to worship. Now, if you've been with us over the last number of weeks we have been tracking through the book of Acts and it's a series we call Praxis. That word is taken from what Acts actually means. It's from the Greek word, more or less that talks about what Acts means. We're talking about the practices or the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. Now in chapter one, when we started this series we looked at Jesus as the one who baptizes believers by the Holy Spirit or with the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ into the way of life. That is Jesus way of life. That Jesus actually baptizes us by the Holy Spirit. We saw in Acts chapter four in the second week that the Holy Spirit emboldens us to be witnesses to testify to who Jesus actually is. And then last week in Acts chapter eight we learned that the Holy Spirit speaks and though He can speak and has spoken in many different ways that the way in which He has promised to speak to us in these last days is through His son. And what we have is we have the revelation of truth here in the Word of God that gives us a revelation of who the Son of God actually is and the Holy Spirit uses that to be able to speak to us. And today I wanna add to the practices of the Holy Spirit that we have been understanding and learning about. And today we're going to learn that the Holy Spirit encourages. Isn't that good reminder for us today? Aren't you glad that you're hearing a message today that the Holy Spirit encourages? I hope that you are, if you're sitting there going, "No I was hoping you'd say something really really the despairing," you know we'll know the Holy Spirit encourages. Now how do I know that? I know that because of the testimony of scripture. Remember we're walking through the book of Acts and we've looked in Acts chapter one. And part of chapter two, we looked in Acts chapter four. We've looked in Acts chapter eight and now we're going to be in Acts chapter nine. So if you have a Bible, I want you to find your place in Acts chapter nine, if you're new to the Bible and kind of don't know your way around it, that's okay. If you look in the New Testament, which is the second half of the book, you'll see Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and then you'll find the book of Acts. It's also written by Luke who wrote the Gospel of Luke. He also wrote Acts so the same author there but as you're making your way to Acts chapter nine I wanna point out one particular verse that talks about the nature of the early church. And I want you to hear very clearly what it says so that you and I can both see it. Here's what it says in Acts 9:31. It says, "Then the church throughout Judea, "Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace "and was strengthened living in the fear of the Lord "and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, "it increased in numbers." So what we see here is that Luke wants to remind us that the whole Holy Spirit encouraged the early church or the early believers, that that's what the Holy Spirit did. Now what does that word actually mean when you see encourage there? Because some of you are reading in maybe a different translation than what I'm showing here and you might see comforted or something counseled something along that line. Well, it's because the word itself comes from a Greek word pair of Paraklesis which is two different words, right? It's, a compound word. You know what a compound word is, right? It's two words that are kind of slammed together. Para which means beside or coming alongside, para like a paramedic right? Or a para church organization. You know, it's not a local church, it's an organization that comes alongside of a church to do specific things, right? Para, which means to come alongside. And then there's a Greek word kaleo which means call. So the idea, when you put those two words together it's a calling alongside for encouragement, for comfort, for help, for advocacy, for aid, for, you know that's what you see when you see this word. So Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit encourages these early believers. So if the Holy Spirit encourages that brings two questions to mind real quick that I think are worth our time. First how does the Holy Spirit encourage? Right? The Bible tells us that. I mean, Luke tells us there quite clearly that the Holy Spirit encouraged them, the early believers. So how does the Holy Spirit encourage us? But the second question that I would ask is why does the Holy Spirit encourage us? So I wanna take those two questions as our framework for our time together today. And the first question takes a little bit longer to answer because there's more in the text that we're looking at in Acts chapter nine, that gives us an understanding of how the Holy Spirit encourages us. And then I'll answer very briefly at the close of the message, why the Holy Spirit encourages us because I think we can see that very, very quickly. All right? So the first question, how does the Holy Spirit encourage us? The first way that I would say the Holy Spirit encourages us is through the truth. Now, if you're saying Jerry where did you see that in Acts 9:31? Well, look at it again with me, you'll see in the second part of the verse, Acts 9:31B it says "living in the fear of the Lord "and encouraged "by the Holy Spirit." Now, when you and I look at this particular passage it makes sense to us to say, okay we're encouraged by the Holy Spirit, right? So in other words, we look at this and we say this is something the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit encourages us. Well, that's absolutely true. The Holy Spirit does encourage us, but that's not all that that means because the reason that the Holy Spirit encourages us is not because that's just something He does because that's who He is. You see, I don't want you to miss this because this gets at the heart of who God actually is. The Holy Spirit is an encourager, and that's why he encourages us. To make that a little bit clearer, I wanna bring our minds back to some teaching that Jesus gave where it was right after the time of the last Passover meal that He had with His disciples. But before he was actually crucified, it was that interim time in between where Jesus teaching and John ,the Gospel writer John, captures that for us in John 14 John 15 and John 16, it's kind of a long teaching but Jesus, there talks very specifically about the Holy Spirit. Now and to hear what he said in John chapter 15, it says this in verse number 26, "When the advocate comes "whom I will send to you from the father, the spirit of truth that goes out from the father, he will testify about me." Now I want you to watch this, this word right here advocate is a word that sounds an awful lot like the word that we just looked at a moment ago where we saw in Acts chapter nine when it says that the Holy Spirit encouraged them I told you that word was paraklesis This word for advocate is parakletos. So you can see, okay, that's in the same like word family, right? You can look at it and just know that it's in the same word family And here it's translated advocate. But what it can also be translated as is encourager. There are a number of meanings of this phrase that we see in this word, family, the parakletos, or Paraklesis word family comfort, encourage, counselor, helper. So some of your translations may use one of those other terms, depending on what you're looking at. You may see when the counselor comes or you may see when the helper comes or when the advocate comes, the phrase encourager could also work there as well, because it's in that same word family. So I find it interesting that Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit, the Parakletos as the advocate or the encourager. But I don't want you to miss the fact that the definite article is there as well. He calls him the advocate, the counselor, the encourager, right? That's important for us to be able to grab hold of because we're not just talking about a Holy Spirit who encourages us as just something he does, even though he does do that. We're understanding that the Holy Spirit encourages us because He is the encourager. He is the advocate. He is the counselor. He is the comforter. He is all of those things. But what's interesting is how this encourager the encourager, the Holy Spirit, how He encourages us. Because there's another designation Jesus uses about the Holy Spirit in the same verse. He said, "when the advocate comes "who I'll send to you from the father "the Spirit "of truth." See what I just told you a moment ago is that the Holy Spirit encourages us because he is the encourager, but how does He do that? By the truth. Because he is the spirit of truth. See this is important for us to understand because Jesus actually emphasized this point in His teaching when He was teaching in this whole chapter, John 14, 15, and 16 notice what he says in John chapter 14 about the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commands." "And I will ask the father "and He will give you another advocate." There's our word. "To help you and to be with you forever "the Spirit of truth." And then in John 16, he goes on to say this in the same teaching section, Jesus said, "I've got much more to say to you more than you can now bear." "But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, "he will guide you into all the truth." So how does the Holy Spirit encourage us? He encourages us with the truth. That's really important to us. I'll tell you why, because we're told so many lies in the world that we live in. I mean, it feels like sometimes we are bombarded with lie after lie, after lie. And even those of us that are people who say we follow after Jesus Christ, we can be bombarded with lies and even tell ourselves things that are not true. And that's why we need the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. Because we'll say things like this, "God couldn't really love me." Lie. Or we'll say something like this, "I've done too much to be forgiven." Lie. Or "I'm not gifted enough or skilled enough "to be used by God." Lie. You're getting it now. God really doesn't care and He's really not paid. He's got too much to do. He's not really paying attention to me. Lie. Right? The reason that we know it's a lie is because of the revealed Word of God that God uses by His spirit to be able to speak to us and to teach us. You see what the Spirit of God will do is he'll take this which is called the sword of the Spirit. And he will carve apart all of the lies that want to infect and infest our minds and our hearts. That's why we are constantly saying to you you need to spend time with God on your own. That daily, you need to be feeding from the Word of God. Not just one day a week when you come in and you say, "Man yeah, whoever was speaking "they put out a beautiful buffet for us." Well, that's the job and that's what we want to do but we need to make sure that we're feeding ourselves every single day. You don't just eat a meal on Thanksgiving do you? As a big meal it's awesome. But the day after Thanksgiving, I promise you you're in leftovers. You're eating again. You're thinking to yourself after that meal, "I could never eat again." Until the next day when you're like "I want to eat again." Right? We need to feed on the Word of God. Did you hear our sister from Lockport that got baptized? Did you hear her testimony Maria? Maria is probably watching right now in Lockport. Did you, did you hear her testimony? It was beautiful. Did you hear her say I'd never really read. I've never opened the Bible before. I've never read the Bible. And now all of a sudden I'm reading the truth and it's transforming me and it's changing me. Do you know why? Because of what the Holy Spirit is doing is he is encouraging her in her walk of obedience. He's encouraging her to live the life of Christ and he's empowering her to be able to do that by what? His truth. He's erasing the lies and he's allowing her to experience the truth. You see the Holy Spirit is the encourager. And I want you to understand something, listen carefully to what I'm about to tell you the Holy Spirit does not discourage you. So if you've got those voices in your head that are discouraging you all the time, it's not God. He doesn't discourage you listen carefully. I'm not talking about, he agrees everything that you say, "Well, I want to do this." And he goes, "Oh, yeah do that." Parents don't do that, right? No, but it's not about discourging you in your following of Jesus. He may correct you. He may realign you. He may unpack some things that He needs you to see so that he can uproot them so that you can be fruitful and grow things that are healthy in their place. But he will not discourage you. You see, we get enough discouragement in the world that we live in don't we? I mean, we live in a world that seems of discouragement. But the Holy Spirit won't do that. Do you know what I've found? I've found that the people who most discouraged others are the most discouraged people. Like they're discouraged and so they discourage other people. Have you, ever had that happen in your life? You've been around somebody and you just know that they're just discouraged and so they're discouraging other people is that ever happened? Yeah. Has it been you? Probably. Right? That's probably happened to most of us at some point in time. We're discouraged and so we discourage other people. Here's the good news. The Holy Spirit never discouraged. Never. Can we grieve him? Yes. By the choices that we make, but he's never discouraged because the Holy Spirit is actually working out the strategy of God in the world. He knows what's happening He knows why it's happening. He understands all of that. Sometimes we don't understand all of that, but He does. He's not discouraged and therefore He's never discouraging you. He's always encouraging you to live in light of obedience to Jesus always. Well, it's good see what this does it starts to reframe the nature of who God is and that's what we need. We need to be able to understand who God actually is. He's not a discourager, he's an encourager. And he encourages us by the truth. Now, sometimes the truth hits home hard. Doesn't it? You be honest. You've been sitting in a message before and the truth was proclaimed and you're like Oh, you feel like, you know, or you've just reading alone and you read that and you just went, "Oh." Now that's not discouraging that's actually encouraging. What's happening is, is that lies and false suit or being removed and you're being formed in the nature of Jesus and the truth. That's what we want to see. The Holy Spirit encourages us. So if you hear discouragement in your head, it's not Him. And you need to be able to bath yourself in the truth so that you can hear his voice speak very clearly to you. But there's a second way in which the Holy Spirit encourages us Not only through the truth, but through magnifying Jesus, power and purposes for the church. I know that was a mouthful. And some of you that take notes, just write quickly. The Holy Spirit encourages us by magnifying Jesus' power and purpose for the Church. And you see here's what I mean, the role of the Holy Spirit is not to bring attention to himself, it's to magnify Jesus. Jesus said that himself. He said "I'm gonna send the Holy Spirit, "he's gonna reveal these things to you. "But he's basically going to glorify me." the Holy Spirit doesn't point to himself. That's what you won't see the Holy Spirit doing. The Holy Spirit points to Jesus. It's a beautiful picture, right? And so we need to understand that what the Holy Spirit will do in encouraging us is he will magnify Jesus' power and magnify Jesus' purpose in the Church. Let me show you from our text of scripture in Acts 9:31 where we're all kind of sitting right now, where we're looking at that text of scripture, whether it's on a device or whether it's a hard copy of the Bible, I want you to see it for yourself. You're like, well you're gonna put it up on the screen. The screen is not going home with you though. Right? I want you to learn how to do this on your own so that you can see the scripture, you can unpack it yourself, right? Here's what it says again, in verse 31, the very beginning of it, then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria "enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened." You're going, wait a minute. How is this magnifying Jesus power and purpose, how's the Holy Spirit doing that? How is he encouraging us in that way? Now listen, so He notes, Judea, Galilee and Samaria, right? He also noted that this was a time of peace and that they were strengthened. Now I want you to pause here with me for just a moment. Now, if you were looking at Israel let's just pretend this is Israel. It's not an appendix, even though that's what it looks like apparently. You'd have Judea down here and then you would have Samaria here and you would have Galilee up here kind of moving North, that's, this is a terrible diagram nonetheless and Jerusalem is down here, you know where Judea is in Judea. And so he says the church throughout Judea Galilee and Samaria. Now what's interesting is this, when the church was born it was in only one spot, right here, Jerusalem, right? Which is in Judea. That was the only spot that it was in. But now Luke is telling us that the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria, in other words, the church has now been scattered. Let me ask you a quick question. Why was the church scattered? The church was scattered because of persecution. And where was the persecution coming from? Religious leaders predominantly in Jerusalem. There was one in particular who was really, really serious about wanting to make sure that these believers were killed or at least imprisoned. And we are introduced to him in the very beginning of this chapter in chapter number nine. Listen to what it says in Acts nine beginning in verse number one, it says, "Meanwhile, "Saul was still breathing out "murderous threats against the Lord's disciples." In other words, Let me translate that for you, This is the actual Greek translation. Saul said, "I'm going to kill you." Okay, you're welcome. "Saul was still breathing out murderous threats "against the Lord's disciples. "And he went to the high priest "and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus," Damascus, that's Syria. So he's not only threatening those that are in Judea and in Samaria and in Galilee, but he's working Northeast going into Syria and Damascus and saying, "I'm gonna kil, I wanna kill all these people. "And I wanna kill those that have spread out here." "So that if he found any there who belonged to the way "whether men or women, "he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem." This is astonishing really because he was concerned with everybody. Now, listen by the way he said," men or women." Usually women got a little bit of a pass in some of these things, but not in this case. You know why? Because women were so actively involved in the ministry of the witness of the Gospel. And so he viewed them as a threat, as well as the men. He was like, "this ain't just the men, "these men and women that are following Jesus. "Men and women that are bearing testimony and witnessing to Christ, right?" So he wanted all of them. Usually they got a pass, but not now, not now. They're a threat. They're serious about following Jesus And I wanna make sure that I'm dealing with them just like I'm dealing with the men. So it's interesting because Paul, Saul and he would eventually become Paul that Saul was breathing out these murderous threats. You can imagine that, here we're reading an Acts 9:31 that they were experiencing a time of peace and of strengthening. Well, that wasn't how the chapter started. It started with murderous threats from this guy who's saying, "I'm gonna kill everybody that's following Jesus." Well guess what happened to him? Notice it says as you move forward in Acts 9:3, "As Saul near Damascus on his journey "suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him" It's coming brother. "He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?" "Who are you Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." He replied. "Now get up and go into the city "and you will be told what you must do." This is startling because now the guy who'd been threatening to kill everybody and probably had people killed, now Jesus stops him cold right? What are you doing? Why you persecuting me? Who are you Lord? That's like saying, who are you Jerry? You know I mean, it's like, he knew who it was. He said I'm Jesus. This is Jesus. I'm a resurrected Jesus showing up to you right now. So knock it off, go to city. And I'll tell you what you're gonna do. By the way You're gonna be blind for a few days. Which is exactly what happened. He was blind for a few days and he was fasting and he was just waiting. And then the Holy Spirit basically tapped on a guy named Ananias and said Ananias you know that guy that's going around killing all of you that love Jesus. Yeah. Yeah. I know him. So? Yeah, he's around. I want you to go over there and I want you to lay your hands on him. Ananias is probably thinking what? Or he's thinking, what? Yeah. He's blind and so I want you to put your hands on him. And he's thinking to himself probably, I'll put my hands on him. If he's blind like this is my shot. He said "No no I know." You don't have to be afraid. I want you to go to him and I want you to do this. And Ananias does. He had to be scared out of his mind. And listen to what happens, it says in verse number 17, "Then Ananias went to the house and entered it "and placing his hands on Saul, he said," Listen to these words, "Brother Saul" isn't that beautiful? This is the guy who was killing all the believers and now the Holy Spirit told him he's one of us, Jesus has saved him. He's rescued him and he refers to him as brother Saul. He said, "the Lord, Jesus, who appeared to you on the road "as you were coming here, "he sent me so that you may see again "and be filled with the Holy Spirit. "And immediately Something like scales fell from Saul's eyes "And he could see again. "And he got up and was baptized. "And after taking some food, he regained his strength. "And Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. "And at once he began to preach "in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God "and all those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc 'in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? "And hasn't he come here to take them "as prisoners to the chief priests?" "Yet Saul grew more and more powerful "and baffled the Jews living in Damascus "by proving that Jesus is the Messiah." Can you imagine this is so remarkable? Listen to this. This is so remarkable What happened here. Jesus allowed for persecution to happen in the early church that was at Jerusalem. Why? Well remember what Jesus said to his disciples before He ascended to the father, He said, "You're gonna be my witnesses "in Jerusalem, "Judea, "Samaria, "and to the ends of the earth." That's what he said in Acts 1:8. But the church was still hanging on just in Jerusalem and not going anywhere. Not doing anything. They were just there, right? It was wonderful. And you know that feeling right? You get your group together. You like everybody. And now nobody else gets to come. Nobody else gets to know, it's like your secret little fraternity or your secret little sorority. And I'm not saying that's what was happening there but Jesus needed to help them out because this message of the Gospel it wasn't just for them. It wasn't just for the Jewish people. It was for the whole world and it needed to go out. And so, you know what he allowed? He allowed for there to be persecution so that there would be scattering.
Because this message of the Gospel It wasn't just for them. It wasn't just for the Jewish people. It was for the whole world and it needed to go out. And so, you know what he allowed? He allowed for there to be persecution so that there would be scattering. But Jesus not, listen to this, Jesus not only allowed for the persecution so that the church would be scattered, but then as the church was scattered and the very person who's doing the persecuting and leading the charge, Jesus says I'm gonna turn this whole thing around. "You, why are you persecuting me?" "Who are you Lord?" "I'm Jesus." And he saves Saul. Calls him to himself, transforms his life. The very guy doing all the persecuting is now preaching the Gospel he was killing people for preaching. Can you imagine how encouraging it must be in the early church for the Holy Spirit to magnify the power of Jesus, to transform a life and his purposes. His purposes were that the Gospel would go forth and they were. But even in the midst of that, what started as chaos when Saul is actually breathing murderous threats against everyone, turns into a time of peace and strengthening. What? This is the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, because what He does is He puts on display Jesus' power and Jesus' purpose for his church. Could you imagine how frightened that church, The early church was early on with Saul breathing out murderous threats, I'm going to kill you. I'm gonna do this to you. You ever been in those spots, not necessarily where somebody saying they're gonna kill you for following Jesus but man, it's, you know, they're breathing out maybe insults and threats and those kinds of things. Can you imagine how scared it was? They were scared for their lives. They've may have seen family members die. They probably thought this is not, maybe just not the end of us. This is the end of the church. This is the end of this whole, the way. This is the end of this faith. We're gonna die. It reminds me of something, a writer from a couple of centuries ago, GK Chesterton said. He wrote a book called "The everlasting man." And the very last chapter in that book was a chapter called "The five deaths of faith." He was actually chronicling a number of different times along the continuum of history where it appeared that the faith, the Christian faith had died until it didn't. And he just chronicled them over and over and over again. Listen to what he said, I thought it was really insightful. He said, "Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave." I Love that thought because it's true. Christianity It seems from time to time dies. Saul's bringing out all these murders threats. He's killing all of these people. They're scattered all over the place. This is it. And it's like it's dead. And then it's not. Because we serve a God who knows how to bring dead things out of graves, dead people out of graves, dead faith out of graves. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. You see, Jesus made it clear to us, didn't He? Heaven and earth will pass away But my words never will. My words never will. This is a reminder to us that we can be encouraged by Jesus' own power. That regardless of what befalls us, regardless of what happens, whatever the circumstance may be whether it was persecution in the early church or persecution coming for our church. Whether it's war or political oppression or political polarization or pandemics or crisis know this, it won't kill our faith at least for long because we serve the same spirit that got Jesus up from the dead and knows his way out of the grave. See this is so encouraging to me because I see it in the baptisms that we do. How the lives are transformed, right? We saw Maria who's testifying to her life being transformed. We had a dear sister in Christ that was baptized here in the first service whose life was transformed. And her life was transformed because of the power of Jesus Christ. And she testified to that power. It was absolutely remarkable. In fact, she testified about that power, that when she was around some family members that were Christians, she knew that she didn't have what they had. And she wondered what the deal was with that. And then she said, her testimony was this, "Then I heard a voice inside of my heart say come and follow me." That's Jesus. Taking those who were dead raising them to life, taking those who were in darkness and bringing them into the light. He still doing it by the way. He hasn't run out of saving power. He hasn't run out of His purposes for what He wants to do in the church. So you know what we can do, we can be encouraged because the Holy Spirit reminds us here, even here, that even when sometimes times are hard know that God knows what He's doing even with His church. And that even if it's hard that He's doing something that is going to bring Him glory and it's going to forward His mission in the world because He is in charge of all of that. And He's also in the middle of that demonstrating His power to change lives. Some of you have been in places where you prayed for somebody in your life and you were like, they are just, whoa yeah. Right? And you prayed for him for a little while and then you just hung it up, cause you're like, for real, that ain't happening. They are far beyond. I've got one word for you. Saul. Saul, killing, killing people because of the Gospel and ends up preaching the Gospel that he was killing people for. This is the power of Jesus. His arm is not too short to save even that person in your head where it's like, oh, no way. What do you mean no way? You got it, didn't you? You got saved. Jesus found you. You were no way to cause you were dead. Every dead person in their sin is no way until Jesus shows up, until Jesus calls us, until Jesus transforms us and regenerates us, There aren't any no ways, because Jesus is Jesus. And what the Holy Spirit does, is He puts on display. He magnifies the power of Jesus and the purpose that He has for His church, And He encourages us with that. But there's a third area that I want you to see that he encouraged us with through people. This is how the Holy Spirit encourages. He also encourages us through people. I'm gonna show it to you in Acts chapter nine, because that's where we are, I'm building this out of Acts chapter nine. You see right before what we read in verse 31 about the church being strengthened and at a time of peace and being encouraged by the Holy Spirit, we realized that Saul who'd been converted in a remarkable way, a really extraordinary way, now Saul has come over like, you know, he wants to come over to Jerusalem. Can you imagine how everybody started feeling? Oh no. No. Because they had family members probably that had experienced the wrath of Saul. Even the disciples were like, no. listen to what it says Acts nine beginning in verse number 26. "When he," meaning Saul "came to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples but they were all afraid of him. Not believing that he really was a disciple." Check These two words out. "But Barnabas took him and brought to the apostles and he told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem speaking boldly in the name of the Lord." Those two words, 'but Barnabas', are beautiful because you know what the Holy Spirit did? The Holy Spirit encouraged all of those disciples through Barnabas. Now, if you're going, do I know Barnabas? Maybe you do know that Barnabas is not his name, right? No wait a minute. He just said, Barnabas. Barnabas is a designation that was given to him. His name's Joe. You're like, you're not serious. I am serious. If you go back to Acts chapter four it tells us, it says "Joseph a Levi from Cyprus whom the apostles called Barnabas, which means son of encouragement." That's Barnabas's name. Could you imagine that you've got your regular name whatever it is, right? So, you know, you've got your name, right? David, right? You got your name, Tim, right? Whatever your name is Suzy, great. But you're so filled with the spirit. You're such a voice of encouragement in the lives of people by the spirit, that you encourage them with the truth, that people don't even call you by your real name. They give you a designation. That's what happened to this guy, Joseph. They're like, we're not calling you Joseph. We're calling you Barnabas because it means son of encouragement. You know why? Because you're acting so much like the Holy Spirit, who comes alongside and comforts and encourages and strengthens and helps and aids. We're gonna call you Barnabas. Don't you wanna be known? Dear sister in Christ, Don't you wanna be known as a daughter of encouragement? My brothers don't you wanna be known as a son of encouragement? Because in so doing we're being identified with the very nature of who the spirit is and what the spirit does. He is the encourager, right? He encourages because he is the encourager. The truth is, is that we need, we need more women and men like this. Barnabas came alongside Saul and he brought him to the apostles and to the disciples. And he said to them, I wanna give you a truthful witness about what Jesus has done in this man's life. And he spoke the truth to them. He helped them to see the truth of Jesus. We need more sons and daughters of encouragement because our world is a world of criticism. Our world is a world of tearing people down, and we voiced sometimes those very criticisms and that very tearing down of people, we voice it with impunity. We voice it with no thought given to it whatsoever. It even happens in the church of Jesus Christ. Right? If you combine, listen if you combine spiritual immaturity and an open comment section, it's not a good combo. I say that to you and I in love because we've got to be able to think when we start tweeting at people or when we start commenting on people's IG or their Facebook or whatever it may be Everybody's got a voice. And by the way in some ways that's awesome. That everybody has a voice, but we need to learn how to use it. We have to understand the stewardship that we have with the voice that we have. Do we use it to tear down? Do we use it to discourage? Because if we're using it, listen, if we're using it to discourage we're working against what the Holy Spirit is trying to do. What we wanna do is we wanna cooperate with the spirit. I'm not talking about, listen, I'm not talking about superficial flattery. That's not what I mean by encouragement. That you know, that's not what I mean. I'm talking about encouraging people by the truth, encouraging people with the truth of Jesus. that makes such a significant difference in the lives of people. Has that ever happened to you? Has somebody who in your world who walks filled with the spirit of God, have they just come along at the right time and the right moment and they've just breathed the truth of Jesus into your world? They didn't do it to call attention to themselves. By the way, you can tell if somebody is filled with the spirit, because if they're calling attention to themselves, that's not it. The spirit of God testifies to Jesus, the spirit of God magnifies Jesus. And so when, it's not about us when we're trying to encourage people, it's about the truth of who Jesus is. We're not saying that and then I told you so manner. We're not saying it in a I'm here you're here manner. We just wanna breathe the truth of the life of Christ into people's world. Has that ever happened to you? It's happened to me. I'll be honest with you, This last 14 months in my life has been extraordinarily hard. This last 14 months has been the hardest leadership timeframe, times a million of any timeframe I've ever experienced in my entire life as a leader, it's the hardest. And it catches up to you after a while, it wears you out, it wears you down, right? And so, during this time I called a friend of mine, I actually texted and we ended up talking, a friend of mine in Georgia. His wife is who helped lead me to faith in Christ, and he's been a long time friend was in my wedding. I just want to, I called him I'm just like, man I want. I just want to voice of a brother that I love, just, you know. And I was calling him to check in on a couple of other things. And do you know what he did? He didn't have a long time. He had 15, 20 minutes 'cause he was gonna be doing like, he's a minister of the Gospel as well. He was gonna be doing a counseling appointment or whatever. He took that time. I called him and he took that time. You know what he did? I'm guaranteeing you. He didn't have a Bible in front of him. But he unpacked Psalm 40 and just started depositing it in my life. Literally just walking through it, depositing in my life. I'm just listening on the other end going. The spirit of God is speaking to me. He's bringing truth into my life. Not truth that I didn't know, truth that I need to be reminded of and to embrace and to accept. And he's breathing life into me. I mean, when I called him, I was not in a good spot. By the time I got off the phone with him, I was in the land of the living. Has that ever happened to you? Don't you wanna be those people? God would you help us all be those people. People that are so filled with your spirit. That when people see us coming, they want us to come. They don't wanna walk away from us. They wanna walk toward us because we have the overflowing living water of the spirit of God inside of us that is pouring out on people. And it's not about us. It's not about calling attention to ourselves. It's about the truth of the glory of who Jesus is. Those are the people we wanna be. We wanna be people who receive the truth and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit through others, and we wanna be people who can be vessels of encouragement in the life of others. You see the Holy Spirit encourages through people. I told you that I was gonna spend a lot of time on one question, you're going, Jerry you don't realize you've got like just two minutes or something before you've, and you got two questions you have to deal with. And I'm panicking for you. You don't know where you are. You've lost it. That may be true, but I haven't. We see how the Holy Spirit encourages us, right? Oh looking at this from Acts chapter nine, we see all these various ways and there may be more, but we're going to stop there. Why does the Holy Spirit encourage us? Why? Let me give you one quick statement. And then I'm gonna show you where I'm talking about. Why does the Holy Spirit encourage? Listen to this. The Holy Spirit encourages us because He loves us. We could leave it there. He loves us. Would you hear this this morning? He loves you. He loves you. The Holy Spirit encourages us because He loves us and we are fundamental to the mission of God in the world. Why is the Holy Spirit encouraging us to obedience? Why is He encouraging us to walk in the fear of the Lord? As it says in Acts 9:31, why is He encouraging us in the truth and in the life of Jesus? Because we are what He has chosen to extend His mission in the world. He loves us and were fundamental to the mission. Not because we're special, but because this is what God has chosen. He's chosen His people to do this through. That means you. let me show it to you. Acts 9:31, "Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit." Watch, watch, watch, watch. "It," Meaning the church, "increased in numbers." You know what happened? As they walked in obedience to God, because of the encouragement of the truth of the Holy Spirit The church grew. There's your formula. Walk with Jesus. Live like Jesus, based on the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and the truth, and people will want what you have. They'll want what you have. The church began to grow. Why? Because it was attractive. You see when Jesus people walk obediently and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, the church will grow. And it makes sense, doesn't it? We sometimes make it so complex, but it makes sense. People wanna be around Jesus. When you read through the scripture, when you read through the scripture the only people that you see that really hated Jesus are people that wanted power that was only His. Everybody else that knew they had a need ran to Him. They knew it. They needed him. Jesus is by nature, a sweet aroma that everybody wants to inhale. He is by nature, the one that people want to run to. So, be encouraged my brothers and sisters. I'm having fun preaching this day because I love being able to talk about encouragement. You've been gracious to listen and I'm so thankful for that. Wherever you are, If you're online, if you're here, if you're listening by way of radio, I want you to be encouraged for one, that you're loved by God. Two, that the Holy Spirit actually wants to use you in His mission in the world. And three, make sure that you combat the lies of the enemy by allowing the Holy Spirit to encourage you by His truth every day. But you know what I think, maybe the most encouraging thing of all things, is that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever would believe in him would not perish, but would have everlasting life. Can you imagine something more encouraging than the fact that all of us who have sinned and come short of the glory of God, which is all of us and the wages of sin is death, spiritual separation from God forever, That God in his great love made a way for us to be forgiven and to be raised from the death of our sins, Because Jesus came, lived sinlessly, went to a cross to die our death, to satisfy the justice of a Holy God. The spirit of God got him up out of the grave And now by faith in what He has done for us in His grace we can now be in relationship with God and no longer strangers or foreigners, no longer aliens. We're no longer dead. I can't think of anything more encouraging than that. That the God who is judging everybody everywhere and the God who has made everyone everywhere, has made a way for us to be in relationship with Him. There's nothing more encouraging than that, that we can live with him forever by faith through grace. If you've never done that, I hope you will today. Can we bow our heads together for prayer? So in this moment, if you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus I hope that what you'll do when we dismiss in just a moment is that you'll just walk straight across the atrium into the fireside room. We'd love to take a moment to just talk to you about what it means to receive Christ, to have your sins forgiven, your life made new. If you're watching online, then you can simply go to thechapel.com/knowingJesus. And that'll give you the opportunity to be able to connect with somebody about how you can be confined this relationship with Christ. And father I pray for each of us because you you're the God of encouragement and I pray today that really it's your life through your word by your spirit would have been poured into your people today. And I pray that we would be reminded of how you encourage us in the truth and how you encourage us by making much of Jesus' power in his purpose in the world and in the church. And how you do it through people. Would you help us to be the kind of people, the kind of vessels that will be vessels of encouragement in a world of great criticism, in a world of great discouragement? Would you make us vessels not of superficial flattery, but of people who encourage one another by the truth of God. May we cooperate with your purposes Holy Spirit in the lives of other people. And may we be quick to receive that encouragement that comes from you as well. We love you And we thank you for every expression of your blessing in Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.