One of my favorite characters in the Bible was a man named Barnabas. He was not one of the more well-known men in Scripture. As far as I know, he never performed any miracles. He is not credited with writing any of the books of the Bible. However, I am convinced that we are blessed today because God used Barnabas in a mighty way.
Joseph was his real name, but the Apostles nicknamed him Barnabas because Barnabas means, “ Son of Encouragement”. He had the gift of encouragement and used it to inspire people to do their best for God. Even the greatest men in the Bible often needed encouragement. And God used Barnabas to inspire the hearts of at least two of the most important men in the New Testament.
It was Barnabas who encouraged the Apostles to accept Paul when he was a new believer. Later when Paul would disappear for two years, Barnabas would go to Tarsus and inspire him to begin work in Antioch. Later on, when John Mark would fail on a missionary journey, it was Barnabas who believed in him and gave him another chance. For this reason, whenever I read the Gospel of Mark and the Letters of Paul, I am grateful for the Son of Encouragement.
I challenge you to become a Barnabas. In Proverbs, we read that it is a joy to hear the right word for the right occasion and that God is pleased with friendly words. So make it a point to encourage everyone you come in contact with. Put a smile on your face and tell someone that they are doing a good job. Your kind words may be the inspiration someone needs to hear today
I found a dead bird lying under a bush. There were no wounds on its body, nothing to show why he died. It looked as if it had just come to the end of its life. As I looked at the tiny remains, I thought about the life and purpose of a bird. What is a bird’s purpose? Well, it seems a bird’s purpose is to live, raise its young and sing. By doing what it was placed here to do, it fulfills its ultimate purpose, which is bringing glory to its Creator.
Consider the lifespan of the average bird. Many can live up to ten or twelve years. Some live much longer while others have shorter lives. A bird’s life can be hard. When the harsh wind and cold rain of winter comes, they cling to a branch, fluff their feathers and endure. After that the hot dry days of summer may make their food hard to find. But you never hear a bird complain. You will only hear bright, cheery songs from the birds. Their song should remind us that God is always good and greatly to be praised
As I sit here on this beautiful morning, I watch the warm sun melt last night’s frost. As the sun rises, I hear a coyote howl and turkeys gobble. In the distance an owl gives one last hoot and close by doves are faithfully cooing to their lifelong mates. Quietly, I listen as the birds begin their symphony of praise to a Creator that only mankind can know.
Yes, it is true; we who are created in the image of God are the only ones who can know God. And yet when it comes to glorifying God, the birds put us to shame. We are the apple of God’s eye and yet more often than not our voices are lifted in grumbling and complaining. Listen. Our salvation was purchased by the Blood of Jesus so shouldn’t we out sing the birds. The bottom line is this. No matter what is going on in your life, God is worthy of all honor and praise and glory.
The Roman soldiers dragged him from the dungeon. They made him pick up a heavy wooden beam. When the lash of the whip cut across his back, he started walking. He and two others carried the instruments of their deaths up the hill. Today he was going to die. It was what he deserved because he was a thief.
From the top of the hill came the thud of hammers and screams of agony as nails tore through flesh. The crosses were lifted into place. His long torturous death had begun. He looked over at the other men hanging on their crosses. He knew both men. One of them deserved to be there because he was also a thief. However the other Man did not deserve to be there. He was there because the religious leaders hated Him.
Even in his agony he wondered, “what is wrong with these people?” Like snarling animals they ridiculed and abused the Man in the middle. At one time, he even joined them and hurled insults at the innocent Man. But as he watched and listened, he realized this Man was the Son of God. He repented and begged Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom.
He heard Jesus cry out to His Father. The sun went black and the earth shook. Jesus said, “It is finished!” and placed His spirit into His Father’s hands. Later the soldiers pierced the Savior’s side, but Jesus was already dead.
Later using a heavy club, the soldiers broke the legs of the thief. Unable to lift himself any longer he suffocated. But he died with peace in his heart. He had met the Savior and he knew on this day he would be with Jesus in Heaven. It was the best day of his life.
On April 16th, 1978 I nervously stood in front of the altar at Stinchcomb Methodist Church. When the doors swung open a beautiful girl stepped through and walk down the aisle to take my hand. The preacher asked us to promise to love each other until death did us part. We both said we would and he pronounced us man and wife.
On that spring day forty three years ago we thought we knew what love was. But like all newly married couples we didn’t have a clue. The truth is, I don’t think you can know what love is until you have experienced life. You can forget about all the fairytale ideals of love. Happily ever after requires a lot of struggles.
In the last forty three years Deborah and I have had blessed life. There have been times when we scraped the bottom of the barrel but the barrel was never empty. Together we have cried tears of grief at the death of loved ones. We have held each other and cried tears of joy at the birth of children and grandchildren. We have fought over things that mattered little, but we always made up because we knew what mattered a lot. She can never leave me because we go everywhere together. I am proud to say that we’re still having fun and she is still the one I want to talk to in bed.
Forty three years have gone by since that preacher told me that I could kiss the bride. Throughout those years we have seen better and we’ve seen worse. Our bank account has been richer but it has also been poorer. We have prayed together during sickness and we praise God in our health . Deborah it is your love that colors my world. I love you more today than yesterday but I love you less today, less than I will tomorrow.