Monday, August 17, 2009

The gift of encouragement

Today’s Reading: Acts 4:36-37 (NIV)

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Good morning!

Have you ever been around someone who is a constant encouragement and support to you? I’ve been blessed with many people in my life, who seem to know just the right thing to say at just the right time. When I’m especially discouraged, I turn to Barnabas, and seek hope for what may seem to be a hopeless situation.

I think this is why I really like Joseph from Cyprus in Scripture, most recognized by his nickname, Barnabas. His name means Son of Encouragement. He’s the kind of guy that makes you feel instantly better just knowing he’s around. Biographical information on Barnabas states he was Levite from Cyprus, but did not work in the temple. Barnabas had the courage and determination to introduce Paul of Tarsus to Simon Peter. He encouraged Mark to accompany Paul on one of the first missionary trips. Even in the fray of disagreement, Barnabas remained a constant encourager, seeking relationship and love between the Apostles and the early church. He was one amazing man!

Encouragers tend to be big givers by nature. They give whatever they have to help the cause. Barnabas knew that it would take financial resources to help spread Christ’s Gospel to the people who had not yet heard. He was one of the first believers to willingly sell his personal possessions and give it away to the Apostles to help spread the Word. Maybe you have the heart of an encourager, but do not have a field to sell. Is there something else you would willingly put out there on E-bay, and the proceeds used to spread Christ’s love around the world? Everybody has something they can give, even you.

Yesterday afternoon, my husband Jeff and I had a Barnabas stop by to visit with us after worship. This couple is such a source of encouragement, and has been an integral part of our lives for many years. Because Jeff is recovering from surgery, he was unable to lead worship yesterday, which for most pastors, is pure torture. It was such good news to hear about the encouraging message that was preached, knowing the Good News continues to be proclaimed, and that our congregation is pumped and primed to share Jesus Christ outside the walls of our church. After they left the parsonage, we thanked God for all the encouragers in our life, who help us through times of discouragement.

You can be a Barnabas today. You may be blessed with the financial resources to be able to give something away that can make a lasting difference for another. If you can give it, then give it with gusto! You may be able to share your time with someone who is hurting and struggling to see the light of day. If you are willing to offer a ministry of presence, then give your time away with joy! A simple smile or a handshake to a stranger on the street, may mean more than you realize to someone who has not been noticed or spoken to at all.

When Barnabas showed up, people recognized Jesus Christ living and working through His hands and heart. We can all be sons of encouragement to each other, as we find new ways to give our resources, our wealth, our blessings, and our lives away so that others may live. Get out there and be a blessing to someone else today, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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