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Friday, October 24, 2014

Isaiah 40:28 with rural sunset (Photo by Doug Maxwell)
Kraybill Church Road Sunset
Photo by our friend and neighbor Doug Maxwell
(Click on photo to enlarge)

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"Stay Faithful!"

"When he (Barnabas) came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose" (Acts 11:23). "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4).

Over thirty years ago Tom and Marsha, a young couple with two children at the time, came into a coffeehouse type ministry we had at our church in northern Pennsylvania and made a serious commitment to serve the Lord. 
They experienced the marvelous transforming power of God and went on to become a part of our church and are very active in ministry as they faithfully serve the Lord to this day.

Jeanette Paradis All three of their daughters are married and serving the Lord as well. They have been blessed with grandchildren in recent years.

 Last week I received a brief note from Jeanette, their oldest daughter who is married and has several children. She thanked us for a specific message that had touched her heart. I replied and commended her for serving in women's ministries in her church.

She replied with a brief note assuring me that
"We are staying faithful!"

For many years I have often ended a conversation with a fellow follower of Christ with the brief exhortation, "Stay Faithful". It's more than just a tag line I exchange in parting; it's meant to spur my friend on in faithful service toward God. Today let us examine Barnabas, a Bible character that I aspire to be like, who in our first daily text also essentially stated, "Stay Faithful".

His given name was Joseph but he received a nickname from the apostles and that name stuck. Very few, even diligent Bible students, would likely even recall 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 (see here for map) 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 came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose" (Acts 11:23). 

Let's examine this verse phrase by phrase:

1) "When he (Barnabas) came and saw the grace of God." Scripture doesn't specify just what Barnabas saw. The NIV words it, "evidence of the grace of God". That's wonderful isn't it?  We hope you have seen evidence of the grace of God in fellow believers. We also hope that we abundantly display that evidence in our lives!
2) "He was glad" - What makes you glad today? Ask yourself, does it have eternal worth?
3) He exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose." That's how Luke concisely describes Barnabas' ministry and as an encourager that's how we will conclude today's challenge.

When he wrote the second daily text
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth", the aged Apostle John was likely referring to his spiritual children; those whom he had impacted for Christ over many years of ministry. We have often used this "feel good" passage when I consider the growing blessedness of our impact on others over the long-term (one of the few blessings I can say that comes with aging). It's a great joy to hear from someone like Jeanette whom Brooksyne and I first met as a toddler many years ago and to hear of her steadfast faithfulness to the truth.

Today Brooksyne and I encourage each of our Daily Encouragement readers to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose! Declare today, "I am staying faithful!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily 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 including that of our fellow brothers and sisters who have forsaken the world and surrendered their all to You. May we be eager to reveal Your grace to others as You continue the lifelong work of replacing our old nature by transforming it into the likeness of Your Son, Jesus Christ. May we be found faithful with steadfast purpose all the days of our life. Amen

Display at Shady Maple 10/21/14
Display at Shady Maple 10/21/14

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Keep Me True"  Video  Jabu Hlongwane  (South African Gospel music)

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  Steve Green with the Gaither homecoming singers

"Little Is Much When God Is in It"  Video  Wes Hampton with the Gaither homecoming singers

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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