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Theme: When I think of the word encouragement the first thought that comes to my mind is the Comrades marathon. Watching, especially the finish line, as one competitor stumbles and falls another one would assist or with the help of others carry that person over the finish line. Then there are those who line the street handing out refreshments and shouting words of encouragement to those in the race to keep on going. When I think of discouragement in this context I think of the battle in one’s mind to keep going kilometre after kilometre when your body aches to give in. We all have people in our lives that discourage us, the ones that always find the dark cloud in our silver lining so we need to be sure that we spend time with encouragers. These encouragers push us and strengthen our resolve in living a full, positive life to the glory of Him who purposed our lives.
Theme Scripture: Acts 4:32-37, 9:23-30, 11:19-26, 15:36-41
1.Why do we all need encouragers in our lives?
  • The Encouragement of Generosity
It is of interest to note that Barnabas’s real name was Joseph and that they actually called him Barnabas as a nickname meaning “Son of encouragement”
Read Acts 4:32-37
2.What do you learn of Barnabas’s personal background and condition of his heart in these verses?
3.How do you think he felt when the friends he fellowshipped with changed his name?
  • The Encouragement of Believing the Best
Encouragers give you a gift: They constantly affirm to you 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Read Acts 9:23-30
4.What might have happened to Paul had Barnabas not stood by his side in his early days as a believer?
5.Describe a time when someone believed the best in you even when you could not see it yourself?
6.How did this person’s belief in you and hope for you free you to change and become more of what God wanted you to be?
  • The Encouragement of Embracing ‘Outsiders’
Some daring people decided that if the message of the Gospel was good for the Jews then maybe it is good for the Gentiles! The founders of the church sent Barnabas the master of encouragement to investigate.
Read Acts 11:19-26
7.How do you see Barnabas’s gift of encouragement being developed in this passage?
8.How has God been challenging you to be an encourager?
  • The Encouragement of Persistent Pushing
Sometimes an encourager may have to challenge you in a way that you may experience discomfort and even pain. You however always have a sense that he or she does so out of love.
Read Acts 15:36-41
8.How do we learn from Barnabas about being an encourager even when things are tough?
9.Describe a time when someone refused to give up on you even when you wanted to give up on yourself?
Give everyone in the group an opportunity to share and honor one person who in particular has been an encourager to them.
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