And Joses…was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement). Acts 4:36
Pat Williams was on a book tour when he learned he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He announced his illness at a press conference in Orlando, and shortly afterward he received a letter from golfing pro, Arnold Palmer, who had also battled cancer. The note said: “Pat, I understand you’re going through a tough time right now. I wish you all the best with your treatment and would only give you the same advice that people gave me when I was going through my ordeal: listen to what your doctors advise you and keep a positive attitude.”
Pat had the letter framed and hung it in his office. Later, Palmer learned of how much his letter had meant. “I can’t believe Pat Williams would frame of letter of mine,” he said.
We never know how much our notes mean to other people. When you speak a kind word or write an encouraging note, it goes to the heart of the recipient. Any one of us can be like Barnabas and be a willing servant of God, blessing and encouraging others and glorifying the Lord through our actions.
We never know what a humble word will mean to others.
It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary. Charles H. Spurgeon
When Sin Entered the Church, Part 1 (Acts 4:32–5:11)
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
Influenced by parents who were strong believers in Jesus, track star Jesse Owens lived as a courageous man of faith. During the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Owens, one of the few African Americans on the US team, received four gold medals in the presence of hate-filled Nazis and their leader, Hitler. He also befriended fellow athlete Luz Long, a German. Surrounded by Nazi propaganda, Owens’s simple act of living out his faith impacted Luz’s life. Later, Long wrote to Owens: “That hour in Berlin when I first spoke to you, when you had your knee upon the ground, I knew you were in prayer . . . . I think I might believe in God.”
Owens demonstrated how believers can answer the apostle Paul’s charge to “hate what is evil” and be “devoted to one another in love” (Romans 12:9–10). Though he could have responded to the evil around him with hate, Owens chose to live by faith and show love to a man who would later become his friend and eventually consider belief in God.
As God’s people commit to being “faithful in prayer” (v. 12), He empowers us to “live in harmony with one another” (v. 16).
When we depend on prayer, we can commit to living out our faith and loving all who are made in God’s image. As we cry out to God, He’ll help us break down barriers and build bridges of peace with our neighbors.
Reflect & Pray
How can you build a bridge of peace between you and a neighbor? When have you seen your faithfulness in prayer bear fruit?
Heavenly Father, please strengthen us to come together in prayer, fully committed to loving others and living peacefully.
1 Kings 18:41-46
A committed and consistent prayer life is essential for every believer who wants to grow in his or her relationship with Christ. Yet so many Christians struggle in this area. What is hindering us?
No Burden: Being diligent in prayer is easy when we feel passionate about our request. We will storm the gates of heaven when a loved one is sick, but once the urgency is past, so is the prayer. We drift back into apathy.
No Time: We’re busy and can see no way to squeeze in regular prayer time without a drastic rearrangement of our schedule.
No Apparent Answer: We’ve tried praying, but God just doesn’t seem to answer. Thinking, It’s a waste of time, we give up.
James 5:16-18 tells us about someone whose prayer accomplished much: Elijah was passionate and persistent in his petitions because he knew God intimately and believed He would answer. Past answers to prayer and time spent in God’s presence had solidified the prophet’s trust.
When Elijah first began to pray on the mountain, there was no apparent answer, and yet he continued to seek the Lord. God is always working around us whether we perceive it or not. Eyes of faith can see His presence and involvement even when there’s no tangible evidence.
God did not design prayer as simply an avenue for requests; spending time in conversation with our heavenly Father is meant to help us know and love Him. Then, as we grow in passion for the Lord, spending time with Him will be a delight, and life turns into an adventure of faith.
And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Because the heart of the Christian life is admittedly faith in a person, Jesus Christ the Lord, it has been relatively easy for some to press this truth out of all proportion and teach that faith in the Person of Christ is all that matters. Who Jesus is matters not, who His Father was, whether Jesus is God or man or both, whether or not He accepted the superstitions and errors of His time as true, whether He actually rose again after His passion or was only thought to have done so by His devoted followers—these things are not important, say the no-creed advocates. What is vital is that we believe on Him and try to follow His teachings.
What is overlooked here is that the conflict of Christ with the Pharisees was over the question of who He was. His claim to be God stirred the Pharisees to fury. He could have cooled the fire of their anger by backing away from His claim to equality with God, but He refused to do it. And He further taught that faith in Him embraced a belief that He is very God, and that apart from this there could be no salvation for anyone….
To believe on Christ savingly means to believe the right things about Christ. There is no escaping this. TIC022
Don’t let me ever back down from this vital truth of Who You are. Amen.
If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love.—John 15:10.
This did not once so trouble me,
That better I could not love Thee;
But now I feel and know
That only when we love, we find
How far our hearts remain behind
The love they should bestow.
Richard Chenevix Trench
Our Lord gives the answer to a difficulty continually perplexing honest Christians—”How am I to learn to love God? I want to do my duty, but I do not feel as if I loved God’ Our Lord gives the answer, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Act for God, do and say the things that He wills; direct your thoughts and intentions God-ward; and, depend upon it, in the slow process of nature, all that belongs to you -your instincts, your intelligence, your affections, your feelings—will gradually follow along the line of your action. Act for God; you are already showing love to Him and you will learn to feel it.
They who, continuing faithful to divine grace, however partially communicated, serve God with their whole lives, will never fail of that one reward, the greatest which even He has to bestow, the being made able to love Him with their whole hearts.
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6)
Satan was so successful with his first temptation when he persuaded Adam and Eve to rebel against God’s Word in the Garden of Eden that he has been using the same technique ever since. By this threefold temptation, he appeals to the body, soul, and spirit. He first appeals to whatever fleshly appetites a person may have (“good for food”), then to his emotional responses (“pleasant to the eyes”), and finally to his spiritual pride (“make one wise”).
John later would call these desires “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). James identifies them as “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15).
Satan even brought the same three temptations to bear on Christ Himself in the wilderness: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3). That is, “satisfy your physical hunger.” “Cast thyself down” from the pinnacle of the temple, thus enjoying the exhilarating feeling of being borne up by angels (Matthew 4:5-6). “All these things I will give thee” without your going to the cross, Satan taunted (Matthew 4:9).
Christ, however, stood the test, in each case citing an appropriate verse of Scripture to gain the victory. Now, when we are tempted, we can draw on His strength and follow His example. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12). God “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). HMM
“As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me Ps. 55:16
Yes, I must and will pray. What else can I do? What better can I do? Betrayed, forsaken, grieved, baffled, o my Lord, I will call upon thee. My Ziklag is in ashes, and men speak of stoning me; but I encourage my heart in the Lord, who will bear me through this trial as He has borne me through so many others. Jehovah shall save me; I am sure He will, and I declare my faith.
The Lord and no one else shall save me. I desire no other helper, and would not trust in an arm of flesh even if I could. I will cry to Him evening, and morning, and noon, and I will cry to no one else, for He is All-sufficient.
How He will save me I cannot guess; but He will do it, I know. He will do it in the best and surest way, and He will do it in the largest, truest, and fullest sense. Out of this trouble and all future troubles the great I AM will bring me as surely as He lives; and when death comes, and all the mysteries of eternity follow thereon, still will this be true: “the Lord shall save me.” This shall be my song all through this autumn day. Is it not as a ripe apple from the tree of life? I will feed upon it. How sweet it is to my taste!