Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 12, 2016
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Kevin and David are two friends who separately stepped up to encourage me when I faced early stage prostate cancer, more about them later, for now let me tell you how I felt when confronted with this dreaded disease. I was extremely discouraged! I was mad, sad and afraid. I was mad at the Lord, because I didn’t think I had time for a major health distraction—I was too busy doing His work—how could He slow me down and put me on the sideline? I was sad because I wanted to see our grand babies grow up and come to know Jesus. I wanted to go to their soccer games, take them on trips, attend their high school and college graduations and sit on the front row of their weddings. I was afraid of dying—the pain, the process and the people left behind who need me. I had lost courage—I was overwhelmed by the cancer treatment choices. Robotic? Scalpel? Radiation? Proton? or HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound)? I was a candidate desperate for encouragement. Then the doctor reminded me: you have three months to chose a treatment.
Now back to Kevin and David, my wonderful Christ-like courage givers at a time when I discovered my unconventional treatment option—HIFU—was not covered by my medical insurance. Rita and I were willing to pull money from our very modest retirement funds; after the 10% penalty and income taxes were paid we would net the amount needed to cover the total cost. Unsolicited and unaware of anyone’s interest, our new friend David very generously gave half out of his own pocket. Kevin asked 15 friends to each give the same amount, so the entire cost of my medical procedure was covered by extraordinarily caring, loving friends and brothers in Christ! Jesus is King, but in the right moment, with the right motivation—cash can sure create courage to continue on the journey with Jesus and His faithful followers.
A Biblical Example: Barnabas – A Leader Who Lived Up to His Name
The name Barnabas means son of encouragement—and how profoundly did he extend courage to all he came in contact with—his encouragement expressed itself in financial generosity, not giving up on a quitter, endorsing the unseemly character of a new Christian, a fiery zeal to share the gospel with unbelievers and radically infusing in others joyful gratitude to God! Also a Levite, which means a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi—he likely assisted the priests in worship in the Jewish Temple and was a faithful leader who tithed regularly to support the ministry.
Financially Generous: Offers Courage to Care for Others
“And Joseph, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:36-37, NKJV).
When Barnabas saw the poor and needy doing without, he took his surplus—his land, a non cash asset, found a buyer and converted his dirt to cash. Without hesitation he placed the funds at the feet of the faithful leaders he followed and trusted—who under God’s authority- would use his resources where the needs were the greatest. Perhaps the real estate had been in his family for generations or it was an accrued investment in his lifetime—either way he experienced the joy of generosity while he was alive—instead of risking an unplanned misuse of funds after his death. He did his giving while he was living, so he knew where it was going. Barnabas gave financial courage to care for those in need—he offered his gift as an act of worship and gratitude to God.
Loyal to a Struggling Friend: Gives Courage to Continue
“Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus” (Acts 15:37-39).
Mark and Barnabas were cousins (Colossians 4:10), so this is one good reason the Son of Encouragement was slow to give up on someone, especially a relative—he was ready to give him another chance. Mark’s track record of completing a mission trip was not stellar—he had the reputation of being a quitter, noted from his past experience of leaving Paul and Barnabas mid-trip and heading back home (Acts 15:37-38). But Barnabas didn’t see Mark as a chronic quitter—rather he saw someone whose past lapse of judgment could be mended with another opportunity to prove himself as a faithful leader who could persevere in the face of difficulties. Barnabas took a chance by offering Mark a second chance. Grace does not tire in giving others courage to continue.
“When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:23).
PrayerHeavenly Father, give me courage so I can give others courage.
ApplicationWhom can I financially encourage or offer courage to not give up?
Related ReadingEcclesiastes 7:4; Matthew 25:36; 2 Corinthians 1:17; Colossians 2:23
Post/Tweet todayGrace does not tire in giving others courage to continue. #encourage #wisdomhunters
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