A Leader Worth Following?

Church and life can turn believers into consumers, spending all our resources and time on ourselves. There is frustration on how to lead people beyond traditional church. How to lead your people to be on mission? The key: LIVE IT or you have no hope to LEAD IT.

First Corinthians 4:15-16, 11:1 – Lead by example. The word guardian or tutor means NANNY, someone caring for you for the moment but is not a permanent fixture. We can pick and choose from so many teachers, blogs, pastors, podcasts, but a nanny is not a father. A father is invested into the lives of his children. We are to be real flesh and blood leaders to our people.

We cannot lead a missional community if we are not on mission ourselves. If I asked people to imitate me, perhaps they would learn how to prepare sermons and attend meetings. Quite convicting talk by Jen Hatmaker.

Are You Inspiring Others?

This is a great reminder to follow my example, as I follow Christ (Ephesians 5:2, 1 Corinthians 4:17, Philippians 2:12, 3:17, Colossians 2:6, John 13:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 3:9, 1 Peter 2:21). We each can make a difference in the lives of others. What is holding you back from setting the pace?

Lessons from Previous Failures

My class has begun studying the little book of Jude, which I like to call a “post card.”

Author: So who is the author? Jude identifies himself as a servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James. The determination of his identity rests principally upon the process of elimination. The half brothers of Jesus are mentioned in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. Among those named are both James and Jude. James, the half brother of the Lord (different from both James the son of Zebedee and James the son of Alphaeus), rose to an important position in the church at Jerusalem. Jude, who was not as widely known as James, does not use an apostolic title. He simply identifies himself as the brother of the well-known James. The conclusion must be that this Jude is one of the Lord’s half brothers.

Purpose: There is no question about Jude’s purpose in writing this letter; he wanted to discuss their common salvation, but the threat of subversive teachers compelled him to write and encourage his readers “to contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3). So the entire post card is an assessment of false teachers and a strong warning to the readers. The false teachers reject Christ’s authority, but Jude stresses that Jesus is Lord, now and forever. Therefore, He is to be followed both in doctrine and deed.

It is great to talk about salvation and something positive, but occasionally a particular situation compels us to speak about a danger that God’s people need to understand. Delivering this message is not a pleasant task.

The faith delivered to the saints is the special revelation of God. Jude’s readers needed to struggle to maintain this faith free from corruption. Jude had two major concerns: that the readers would not be led astray by false teachers, and that they would instead take the initiative and contend for the faith. False teachers who advocated immorality and perverted true Christology had wormed their way into the church.

Jude denounces the immoral and apostate more strongly than any other New Testament writer.

Previous Failures (Jude 1:5–7)
The writer cited three examples of failure from the past to warn his readers of the danger involved in departing from God’s truth. Each one of these illustrations highlights a particular aspect of the false teachers’ error. It was a sin of rebellion, it was a proud departure from a position of superior privilege, and it involved immoral behavior. Jude give three examples:

  1. Jude’s first example was certain Israelites (Jude 1:5). After God redeemed Israel and liberated the nation from bondage in Egypt, the people failed to continue to believe God’s promises and to trust in His power (Numbers 14:11; Deuteronomy 1:32). God judged those who failed by destroying them in the wilderness. The Savior can also be the Destroyer.
  2. Jude’s second example was certain angels (Jude 1:6). A group of angels also did not remain in their privileged position near God but left that sphere and so incurred God’s wrath. These rebellious angels are now in bondage and await God’s judgment (see 2 Peter 2:4). These differ from Satan’s agents who are at work in the world today (demons) who have considerable freedom. The apostates in Jude’s day had also abandoned a position of great privilege and blessing, namely, the opportunity to serve and glorify God. God would also judge them severely because of their departure.
  3. Jude’s third example was certain pagans (Jude 1:7). This example shows God’s judgment on those who indulge in immorality and sexual perversion, which the false teachers of Jude’s day evidently felt free to practice. Apostasy starts with unbelief, leads to rebellion against God, and proceeds to immorality.

The Son of Encouragement

There are all sorts of people with whom I come in contact that have the power to impact the way I feel. I met a person in a store the other day at the cash register who did not smile, hardly spoke and was just unfriendly. I left there feeling worse than when I came in. Later that same week, an associate at Sam’s Club was pretty friendly and very polite. She had a warm and conversational attitude and caused me to leave there feeling better than when I came in. Some people might make you angry. Some will make you sad. Some will even make you sick because they tell you about every little ache and pain they have.

Have you ever been around someone that just makes you feel better just by being around them? That’s the type of person Barnabas was! Start thinking about what type of person you are? How do you make people feel when you’re around them?

As a disciple of Jesus, Barnabas was committed to telling the good news about Jesus. He left people feeling good because he gave them something to feel good about. Do you leave people better than when you first see them? Not a bad goal to have.

Barnabas’ life displays certain characteristics that distinguish him as a servant of Christ. These characteristics can help us determine if our lives are consistent with the image of Christ. Let’s look at these characteristics found in his life and see if they are present in our lives.

His Goodness (Acts 11:24) Another word could be “righteous.” This refers to the righteousness that results in a Christian’s life once he has been made righteous by Jesus.

  1. Introduction of Paul to the Apostles (Acts 9:27)
  2. Emulation of Jesus. The phrase “he was a good man” tells us that he was like Jesus. (Acts 10:38) The church needs people whose lives are marked by goodness. Is God’s goodness present in your life?

His Generosity (Acts 4:36-37, 13:2-3) Barnabas proved to be quite a generous person.

  1. He was generous with his land (Acts 4:36-37) He gave up his possessions to benefit other people.
  2. He was generous with his life (Acts 13:2-3) His life was not his own, but was the Lord’s to do with as He saw fit.
  3. He was generous with his Lord (Acts 20:35) Luke reminds us of a quote that is not recorded in the gospels, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Every church needs people who are generous with Jesus. God exhibited ultimate generosity when He gave His only Son’s life for you and me! Can we do any less than give Him our lives as living sacrifices? (Romans 12:1)

His Godliness (Acts 11:24) He was “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” Barnabas was God-possessed! He had so allowed the Holy Spirit to have control of his life that he was in the center of God’s will for his life. Because of his faith he was totally committed to being like Christ.

  1. He was Christlike in his conduct – (walk).
  2. He was Christlike in his conversation – (talk).

(see Ephesians 5:18-21) What you are on the inside is determined by your walk (conduct) and your talk (conversation).

His Gift of Grace (Acts 4:36) “Son of consolation or exhortation” This is what his name meant. In Acts 11:23 we read that he “exhorted them all” (Acts 13:43; 14:22)

  1. The church needs “Sons of Consolation.” So many times we will beat up our own, or we are wounded by friendly fire. We need to comfort one another, rather than criticize one another.
  2. We need “Sons of Exhortation.” Too many people say we can’t do that! I believe that with a little encouragement, the attitude of any church will change from “I can’t” to “I think I can” to “I can!”

His Gladness (Acts 11:23) Why was Barnabas glad? Could it be that people were getting right with God? His gladness made him want more people to come to Christ. He went around boldly telling people how to have a relationship with Christ! Matthew 18:12-13 uses the word “rejoice” which is the same word as “glad” in the Greek.

Are you glad when people come to Christ or could you care less? It seems like a silly question to a believer, because a person who is sold out to God is glad when people get saved! A lost person or a backslidden believer (carnal, cultural or casual Christian) couldn’t care less.

Can these characteristics of goodness, generosity, godliness, gift of grace, gladness) be found in your life? If not, why not?

  1. One reason may be that you are a casual or cultural Christian!
  2. Another reason may be you are lost, never before accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
  3. If you fit either one of these, better get it straightened out soon; there are no guarantees about tomorrow.

Remember, once you get Jesus, then you will want to be like Him. This study demonstrates that Barnabas is also a fine man after whom we can model our behavior.

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