Did you know that God is calling young people today to be active in His ministry toward others? So this morning, I’d like to talk to you about the duty of God’s saints and young people toward the afflicted.
When I was young, I can remember (Even though it was many years ago, I can still remember when I was young.) thinking life was all about me. And yes, what happens to us is important, but the basic principle of God’s word teaches that He wants us to be sharing with and helping others. God’s word gives us the direction that teaches how to treat the afflicted.
I want to share a story in the Bible about three different men, Barnabas, Mark, and Paul. Barnabas had a nickname that meant son of encouragement. God calls all young people to be more like Barnabas or more of an encouragement to others. During Paul’s ministry, Barnabas helped a lot. Paul was a great man of God that took the Gospel to all the countries close to where he lived. But before Paul became an Apostle of Christ, his name was Saul, and he was known for violently persecuting God’s people. So when Paul arrived in Jerusalem the first time following his conversion, the Christians were reluctant to meet him because they knew his past. The Saints knew all about the things Paul did to others! “He was the guy running around persecuting and killing them!” The Saints thought Paul’s conversion story was a trick to capture and kill more Christians. Barnabas was the only one willing to risk his life to meet with Paul and convince the others that their former enemy was now a sold-out Christian. Afterward, Paul went on to become an incredible minister of the Gospel! He traveled throughout the country preaching Jesus and converting people to Salvation.
As we continue into the New Testament, we find Barnabas helping another man named John-Mark. John Mark had a weakness. Today we would call this weakness a “quitter.” John-mark needed to learn from his mistakes, and he needed someone stronger than himself to spend time with. It had to be someone who could encourage him and help by showing him how he should live. John-Mark was eager to do the right thing, but he had trouble staying on task. Can anyone relate to that today? Paul didn’t like quitters and John-Mark’s trait for quitting bothered Paul. So when Paul went out to minister, he didn’t want to take John-Mark with him.
On the other hand, Barnabas was patient with John-mark. Despite his failures, Barnabas stood beside John-Mark, giving him patient encouragement. He played a key role in John-Marks life. As we continue to read, later we find that John-Mark became a solid Christian, and we can credit Barnabas for his patience, encouragement, and willingness to spend time working with Mark. Like Barnabas, God calls us to look outward and see who we can help in our lives. Too many times as adults and young people, we only care about ourselves. We think about things like, “What am I going to have for my next meal? What do I want over here? What am I going to do in school?” We are not looking outward to see who we can help or how we can share this Gospel and love God gave to us with others.
As Christians, I want to share a few scriptures that challenge us to learn what we should be doing for others. First, we should have compassion for those who are afflicted.
“15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
God is telling us through the scriptures that we need to be concerned with other people’s lives around us. That means if someone is rejoicing over something, we need to rejoice with them and say, “Praise God for what He’s done in your life!” If someone is weeping, we need to care for their burden, show them compassion, listen and cry with them. There is another important scripture on this topic in Galatians.
“2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
As Saints of God and young people, we need to care for others! We should bear each other’s burdens. The scripture teaches us that if we do, we fulfill the law of Christ! And God is calling us to do this! But how do we bear one another’s burdens? Did you know there is something all of us can do to bear a burden? We can listen to someone if they tell us about their difficulties and troubles. But there is something more powerful than even listening. In fact, it’s a very simple thing all of us can do. We can pray.
“14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:”
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
God is calling us this morning to care for others, and part of doing that is praying for them. Verse 16 of James teaches us that a fault is not a weakness. But not admitting a fault you have is a weakness. If someone shares their problem with us, we can take the situation to God in prayer. My favorite Bible story of Saints holding someone up in prayer is when the people threw Peter into prison.
This account happened under King Herod’s reign. Peter was a minister for God, sharing the Gospel and preaching the word! The religious rulers didn’t like his preaching. Herod hated Christians, and his men killed James, the brother of John, with a sword. Peter was such a great man of God preaching the Gospel that even Herod the king knew his name! So one time, as Peter preached God’s plan of Salvation to the people in the city, the authorities apprehended him and threw him into prison. The Bible says they turned Peter over to four squads of soldiers of four. That means 16 guards at one time were watching him, and they didn’t want him to escape because they were probably planning to kill him.
“5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.”
The Church took on the need. They saw that Peter was in prison and said, “we need to go to God and pray for the situation.” The Bible says that Peter was between two soldiers bound with chains. The keepers were also there. Soldiers surrounded Peter, but God is more powerful than men! An angel of the Lord came down and smote the guards, so they fell asleep. Then Peter stood up, the chains fell off, and he walked right out of prison and then walked out of the city. All this happened because the Saints were praying for him! The Church took on the burden to pray hard for Peter, and the Lord sent an angel to get him out of prison! When the Church and Godly young people pray, God answers those prayers!
This morning I want to challenge you to care for those who are weak, weep for those who grieve, and pray for those that need prayer. And we should also visit those that need help. Young people visiting those that need help is a Biblical principle.
James 1: 27
“27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
God is calling us to care about others, and part of that pure religion God gives us is to visit those that need help. Another thing we should do is protect those that need protection.
“3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”
God calls us not only to visit those afflicted, but He also calls us to defend and protect them. God does not want us making fun of the afflicted or the disabled. We should be that one young person who stands up to defend those who are poor, weak, and fatherless. My challenge to you this morning is this: Are you having compassion for others? Or do you only care about what happens in your own life? Are you praying for those who are in need around you? Are you visiting those who are sick and need help? Are you protecting those that are afflicted? Be like Barnabas; if someone needs help, be the person to help someone through their difficult times.
That’s Not my Job
“This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.”
What is happening with young people today is that they look around and then say somebody can go visit the sick. Somebody else can go pray for people in need. But this morning, God is calling that somebody to be you! So will you go and visit the sick? Will you be the somebody who will care for those who are weak? And will you be the one to pray for them that need prayer? Be a Barnabas, and be that one that will encourage and help others make it to heaven.