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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Morning glory collage
Morning glory collage
We have a wide variety of morning glory flowers growing all around our home though Brooksyne didn't plant any due to her injury in early spring. They are one of the hardiest and most persistent flowers.

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"Lessons from an Encourager"

"When he (Barnabas) arrived and saw evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts" (Acts 11:23). 

Bob and Linda Southard

Bob and Linda Southard are long-time friends of ours who now live in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Though we've never lived close in proximity to them we've thoroughly enjoyed our times of fellowship over the years.  Bob is a tremendous encourager with an enthusiastic personality. He expresses earnest concern for others. 

Bob has an affliction called tinnitus, which causes a persistent loud ringing in his ears, unobservable to others but very painful to him. It often results in severe lengthy headaches and has been practically debilitating. Yet Bob has a faith-filled, positive outlook on life that is contagious.  I am quite sure that anyone who has met him will know immediately whom I speak of and will readily agree with me.  His wife, Linda, is equally enthusiastic in her Christian zeal.  They are both very active in faithfully serving the Lord.
I sure do appreciate people, like Bob and Linda, who are bright spots in our earthly pilgrimage.  They're numbered with the people who are energy-givers and encouragers. Think with me for a moment and consider  those who have a "sticking" ability with others.   In other words you may meet them only once, but you never forget them. I've heard it said that everyone brightens a room. Some brighten it when they come in; others brighten it when they leave!  I sure hope I'm numbered with the first group of people whose presence brightens the room rather than my absence!

One of my favorite Bible characters is Barnabas.  His given name was Joseph but he received a nickname from the apostles and that name stuck.  Very few, even diligent Bible students, are familiar with his given name.  Barnabas means "Son of Encouragement" and he is indeed one of the great encouragers of Scripture.

Due to persecution the message of Christ was spreading way beyond Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria by Acts 11. A group of disciples had reached Antioch telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.  "The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord" (Acts 11:21).

When news of this reached church headquarters in Jerusalem they promptly dispatched Barnabas to the scene.  The Scripture describes him as "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith" (Acts 11:24). The daily verse succinctly describes what Barnabas encountered in Antioch, along with his response.  It is a good lesson for encouragers of any generation. "When he arrived and saw evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts" (Acts 11:23). 

1) "He arrived and saw evidence of the grace of God." - Scripture doesn't specify just what evidence he saw, but sums it up with the descriptive phrase, "evidence of the grace of God".  That's wonderful isn't it?  I hope you have seen evidence of the grace of God in your life and that evidence is visible for all to see!

2) "He was glad" - What makes you glad today?  Woodrow Kroll, one of our favorite Bible teachers, tells the amazing story of sitting in the kitchen of Samuel Lamb, a pastor in Guangzhou, China who was imprisoned nineteen years for his faith. But the grace of God was evident as God added to the Chinese church in a remarkable way in the midst of his undeserved persecution.  This story will bring gladness to your heart when you read the transcript provided below.

3) He "encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts."  That's how Luke concisely describes his ministry and as an encourager that's how I will conclude today's challenge.

Today Brooksyne and I encourage each Daily Encouragement reader to remain true to the Lord with all your heart!

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, there is gladness in our hearts when we express our praise to You. We don't want a complaining heart that dwells on that which one does not have, but we desire a thankful heart that appreciates all that has been given to us.  We have continuous evidence of Your grace in every area of our life.  May we be eager to reveal Your grace to others as You continue the lifelong process of replacing our old nature and transforming it into the likeness of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  May we be found faithful.  Amen.

Today's illustration about the pastor in China as told by Woodrow Kroll was on Monday's "Back to the Bible" radio broadcast.  Here's the transcript.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play in your audio player)

"Use Me"  Audio

"What A Friend"  

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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